Villanova’s Ed Pinckney dunks for UD’s Damon Goodwin in 1985. DDN file photo
The Dayton Flyers play their first NCAA tournament game at UD Arena since 1985 tonight against Boise State in the First Four.
Thirty years and three days ago, the No. 9 seed Flyers lost 51-49 to No. 8 seed Villanova (box score here) in the first round in front of a crowd of 13,260. Dayton has played tournament games in Texas, Arizona, Washington, New York, Minnesota, New York again and Tennessee in all the years since.
Villanova used that victory over Dayton as a springboard to an unlikely NCAA title.
Here’s a look back at that game from SBNation.com and John Schaefer’s book, “The Villanova Miracle and 63 Other Dreams.”
Rollie Massimino took his #8 seed Wildcats and his perfect 7-0 record in the opening round of the NCAA tournament into Dayton, Ohio to face the #9 seed Dayton Flyers. Rollie was disappointed by his #8 seeding, but having to face Dayton on their home court, where they only lost twice all year, made him absolutely livid. He used the NCAA’s slight to motivate his team. His Cats responded with a 51-49 victory in a game that could have gone either way.
“Dayton was able to go toe-to-toe with Villanova thanks to some dead-eye foul shooting. The Flyers made all 17 of their attempts and had the sellout crowd of 13,260 roaring when they took a 49-47 lead, but Pinckney silenced the throng with a game-tying layup with 3:34 remaining.” (1)
“Ed Pinckney was the best player on the floor, finishing with a game-high 20 points while completely dominating Dayton star Dave Colbert, whose 5 points were 13 below his season average. “We’re just too small,” Flyers coach Don Donoher bemoaned. “And Pinckney is such a force in there, it was hard for Dave to go inside to get post-up shots.”
FoxSports.com published an excellent oral history of the 1985 Villanova team with quite a bit on the game versus Dayton.
STEVE LAPPAS, assistant coach: (Dayton coach Don) Donoher was such a great coach with no clock, and they were holding the ball with the score tied (at 49-49, with three minutes left in the game). Then Pres stole the ball from Anthony Grant in the corner (with 2:40 to go).
PRESSLEY: It was really just a matter of where (Grant) had the ball. It was really wide open, right in my face, like, “I know you can’t take this.” I was almost like, “Please, are you serious? I’ve got quick hands. I’m a defensive specialist.” It wasn’t a difficult thing; it was there and I took it, and that’s all there was to it. It wasn’t anything magical, I just reached out and grabbed the ball.
BUONAGURO: That was the play that turned the game, that steal. They were holding the ball and it kind of turned the momentum around. They had gone to a delay and we were the ones who were able to convert.