The field of 64 is complete after the First Four opening event has ended, with Dayton scratching by Boise State in a 66-65 win while Robert Morris pulled off an impressive comeback to send North Florida home, winning 81-77.
The Colonials came back from a 14-point deficit to set up a game against #1 seed Duke. They didn’t score a single point through the first 4:31 of the game and gave up 52 points in the first half but played at a different pace and intensity level during the second half on both ends of the floor, holding the Ospreys to just 25 points. According to head coach Andy Toole, the key was not speaking to his players during the first five or six minutes of the halftime break.
Lucky Jones scored 21 points and grabbed 7 rebounds to lead Robert Morris off the bench, helped out by Rodney Pryor scoring 20 points and Marcquise Reed with 19. North Florida were led by a huge night for Beau Beech scoring 28 points. Jalen Nesbitt scored 14 and Dallas Moore finished with 13 points.
While North Florida shot a lot better than their rivals, especially from beyond the arc, hitting 40.9% of their shots compared to just 25% for Robert Morris, the difference in turnovers (19-5), including five steals for Lucky Jones alone made a huge difference in the end.
The home team in this event, Dayton, made things difficult for them and their fans, but got a nice dose of home support as they blew by Boise State in the final minutes, coming back from a seven point deficit in the second half. The win sets them up with another sort of home game, facing #6 seed Providence, playing in Columbus, Ohio; about 80 miles from the Dayton campus.
Boise State had a chance to win the game on their final possession but their 3-point attempt didn’t hit anything, rim or board. There was an actual foul on the play which should have gotten them 3-shots from the line, but influenced by the home fans the atmosphere in the arena, the officials preferred giving Dayton a chance to celebrate, which isn’t the right thing to do.
Kendall Pollard led Dayton with 17 points, followed by Jordan Sibert, the former Ohio State player, scoring 13 points. Scoochie Smith finished with 11 points. Derrick Marks led all scorers in the game with 23 for the Broncos, helped by Montigo Alford and his hot hand with 11 points off the bench.