The top-seeded University of Florida ended the University of Dayton’s run at college basketball’s national men’s tournament, winning the South Region final 62-52 to advance to the Final Four.
Senior guard Scottie Wilbekin scored a game-high 23 points and center Patric Young added 12 points, six rebounds and four blocks for the Gators in their 30th consecutive win. Dayton’s Dyshawn Pierre led the Flyers with 18 points in Memphis.
After the game Young gave credit to coach Billy Donovan, who has guided the program to the National Collegiate Athletic Association semifinals for the first time in seven years. The team won NCAA titles under Donovan in 2006 and 2007.
“He’s been able to push us every single day from the beginning of the season all the way through, helping us stay in the moment,” Young said in a televised interview. “In doing that, everything else has come with it, the win streak, the SEC tournament championship and this group of guys.”
Dayton held its only lead of the game for exactly one minute -- starting with a Scoochie Smith 3-point shot with seven minutes, one second remaining in the first half and ending with a Michael Frazier II layup 60 seconds later. The Gators outscored the Flyers 19-3 after Smith’s shot gave Dayton a 21-19 lead, and Florida went into the half up 38-24.
Florida led by double digits for most of the second half and withheld a late Dayton rally that cut the lead to eight with less than two minutes remaining.
The 11th-seeded Dayton had upset sixth-seeded Ohio State and third-seeded Syracuse before beating No. 10 seed Stanford to reach the regional final for the first time since 1984. The only other time the Flyers reached the round of eight was in 1967, when they finished runner-up. The loss ends their bid to become the fourth No. 11 seed to reach the Final Four.
The national semifinals are scheduled for April 5 in Arlington, Texas, with the championship game two days later at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Also tonight in Anaheim, California, Arizona takes on Wisconsin in a matchup of the top two teams in the West Region. No. 1 seed Arizona won its only NCAA title in 1997 and last reached the final Four in 2001, while second-seeded Wisconsin is seeking to end a 73-year wait for a second title.
Tomorrow, No. 7 Connecticut plays No. 4 Michigan State in the East Region final at Madison Square Garden in New York, before No. 8 Kentucky takes on No.2 Michigan in the Midwest Region final in Indianapolis.