Dayton pulls off fifth-largest comeback in NCAA tournament history

Mar. 22—SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Koby Brea got the honor of moving the Dayton Flyers sticker ahead on the NCAA tournament bracket in the locker room after a 63-60 victory against Nevada on Thursday. He slapped it on a board and then patted it down to make sure it stuck as his teammates surrounded him. Teammate DaRon Holmes II gave it a couple extra pats to make sure it stayed in place.

No. 7 Dayton rallied from a 17-point deficit in the final seven minutes, pulling off the fifth largest comeback in NCAA tournament history and the biggest since Nevada rallied from a 22-point deficit to beat Cincinnati in 2018.

"In those moments, that's when we get the closest," said Brea, a fourth-year guard who made 5 of 8 3-pointers and scored 15 points. "I think we've been in those situations a couple times this year. I think we're comfortable in those situations. When we look at our captain, our coach, we see that he's not worried, he believes in us. Everybody from the last player on the bench, every coach, they all believe in us. We believe in each other. We trust each other. We're capable of doing those type of things."

Dayton has made a habit of escaping big holes this season. Two games earlier on March 8, it erased a 17-point deficit in a 91-86 overtime victory against Virginia Commonwealth at UD Arena. It has had bigger comebacks — 22 points against George Washington in 2019, for example — but not on this stage.

"Like, Brea just said, there was never a doubt in our mind," said Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II. "We went down a lot. There might be times where we argue on the floor, but at the end of the day we know we have each other. That's what matters. If you want to win big games, you got to stick together, just with anything."

Dayton (25-7) will play Arizona (26-8) at 12:45 p.m. Saturday in the second round.

Here are the four bigger comebacks in NCAA tournament history and the two other 17-point comebacks:

2012: BYU 79, Iona 72 (25 points).

2001: Duke 95, Maryland 84 (22).

2018: Nevada 75, Cincinnati 73 (22).

2018: Louisville 93, West Virginia 85 (20).

2015: Ole Miss 94, BYU 90 (17).

2006: UCLA 73, Gonzaga 71 (17).