What went right: CU outrebounded Dayton 34-29 and committed a season-low seven turnovers
What went wrong: Dayton got good looks all night and finished with a .545 shooting percentage.
Star of the game: D'Shawn Schwartz. The sophomore guard made a career-best five 3-pointers and shared the team lead with 19 points.
What's next: The second round of the NIT. The Buffs await Wednesday's winner between top-seeded Alabama and Norfolk State. A Norfolk State upset would mean another home game for CU, otherwise the Buffs will travel to Alabama.
The postseason will continue for the Colorado Buffaloes.
Overcoming a hot-shooting start to each half by the visiting Dayton Flyers, the Buffaloes won the rebounding battle and turned up their own offense at opportune moments, outlasting Dayton for a 78-73 victory late Tuesday in an NIT first-round game at the CU Events Center.
Colorado will advance to play the winner between Norfolk State at Alabama on Wednesday night (5 p.m. MT, ESPNU). The date of that second-round will be announced later but will be held sometime between Friday and Monday. A win by Alabama would give the Buffs an opportunity for some long-delayed payback from what remains the teams' only meeting, a win by the Crimson Tide in the semifinals of the 2011 NIT.
“That was a high-level basketball game tonight. The people that came tonight and saw that in person I think left saying we saw two good teams,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “Dayton is probably the most efficient offensive team we've played against all year long. We knew that from watching film, and then you see them in person and they've got good players.”
Dayton led by seven points a little more than five minutes into the second half when the Buffs took the lead for good with an 8-0 run. The Flyers remained within one point after a pair of free throws from Ryan Mikesell with 5 minutes, 32 seconds remaining, but CU got two 3-pointers from D'Shawn Schwartz in another 8-0 run that essentially sealed the win.
Schwartz enjoyed a big night for the Buffs, hitting a career-high five 3-pointers while sharing CU's team scoring lead with 19 points and five rebounds. Bey finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while point guard McKinley Wright added 19 points and five assists.
Wright originally signed with Dayton out of high school but opened his recruiting again two years ago, eventually landing at CU, after a coaching change at Dayton.
“I was just trying to come out swinging just because it Dayton, just because it could be the last game,” Schwartz said. “I definitely wanted to fight hard for McKinley. I knew this game meant a lot to him. I think all our guys gave it their best shot tonight.”
Dayton, which led the Atlantic 10 Conference in field goal percentage, finished with a .545 mark but CU was solid as well, finishing at .443 while going 8-for-21 on 3-pointers. The Buffs also outrebounded Dayton 34-29 while committing a season-low seven turnovers.
Dayton enjoyed an early advantage after delivering the exact sort of performance that likely was on the Buffs' scouting report by getting good shots and knocking them down. The Flyers hit 12 of their first 17 shots from the field while CU forwards Evan Battey and Lucas Siewert went to the bench after they each picked up their second foul.
Dayton used its hot start from the field to build an eight-point lead midway through the first half and still led by seven with under six minutes left in the opening frame when the Buffs abruptly came alive, reeling off a 10-0 run that pushed the Buffs ahead 33-30. Much like his timely first-half performance against Oregon State in the Pac-12 Conference quarterfinals last week, redshirt sophomore Alex Starting provided a huge spark during the 10-0 run, scoring half the points while also drawing three Dayton fouls.
Redshirt freshman Obi Toppin led Dayton with 21 points.
Colorado 78, Dayton 73
Toppin 9-12 1-2 21, Mikesell 4-8 4-4 13, Cunningham 2-4 1-2 5, Davis 5-10 2-3 12, Crutcher 6-12 0-0 14, Landers 3-7 0-0 6, Cohill 1-2 0-0 2, Westerfield 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-55 8-11 73.
Battey 3-5 2-2 8, Gatling 1-6 2-2 4, M.Wright 6-14 5-5 19, Schwartz 7-13 0-0 19, Bey 5-11 4-5 14, Strating 2-3 1-2 5, Siewert 1-4 0-0 3, Kountz 2-5 2-2 6. Totals 27-61 16-18 78.
Halftime - Colorado 37, Dayton 35. 3-point goals - Dayton 5-18 (Toppin 2-3, Crutcher 2-5, Mikesell 1-5, Cohill 0-1, Davis 0-4), Colorado 8-21 (Schwartz 5-8, M.Wright 2-4, Siewert 1-4, Kountz 0-1, Gatling 0-4). Fouled out - Mikesell. Rebounds - Dayton 29 (Toppin, Mikesell 6); Colorado 34 (Bey 12). Assists - Dayton 12 (Crutcher 5), Colorado 12 (M.Wright 5). Total fouls - Dayton 19, Colorado 12. A - 3,091.