The glittering carriage was parked outside of FedEx Forum in Memphis, waiting to take one Cinderella into the Elite Eight. Unfortunately for the No. 10-seeded Stanford Cardinal, the horse-turned-coachman’s placard read “Dayton.”
Stanford’s surprising run in the NCAA Tournament came to an end Thursday night in the South Regional semifinal, as they fell 82-72 to the Flyers — a No. 11 seed that now makes its first trip to the NCAA men’s basketball quarterfinals in 30 years.
The Cardinal were led by star guard Chasson Randle, who had 21 points but made only 5 of 21 shots.
Stanford hoped to replicate the game plan that sparked their second-round upset of Kansas: slow the pace and pound the ball inside.
The Cardinal found out in the first half that blueprint would be no match for Dayton’s up-tempo offense. The Flyers whipped the ball in, out and around Stanford’s zone defense, leading to six Dayton three-pointers in the first half and 13 assists on the first 15 Flyer baskets.
Dayton’s depth allowed them to withstand the 49 fouls called in the game (25 on Dayton, 24 on Stanford). Twelve Flyers saw action in the game, while Stanford got only limited minutes from its four-man bench despite finding big men Stefan Nastic and Dwight Powell in early foul trouble.
“All the guys that came in and were ready, they’ve done it all year,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said after the game. “To be where we’re at right now is a real credit to our kids and their togetherness.”
Stanford made a 7-0 run early in the second half as they rediscovered their inside offensive game behind junior center Nastic, who sat for most of the first half with three fouls.
Nastic fouled out with 5:04 left in the game and Stanford down 71-63. Dayton would extend its lead from there, ending any chance Stanford had to advance in front of a crowd that included Seattle Seahawks cornerback (and Stanford alum) Richard Sherman.
Despite missing out on a chance to advance to their first Elite Eight since 2001, Coach Johnny Dawkins’ team will have a solid core back next season with Randle, Nastic, and guard Anthony Brown.