By Paul Gotham
Balance and depth have been key ingredients for Archie Miller‘s University of Dayton Flyers.
Nine Flyers average a dozen or more minutes a game. Eleven have scored in double figures in at least one game this year. UD has posted a 23-3 record when three or more players notch double figures in a game.
Make that 24-3.
Four Flyers tallied 10 or more as UD advanced to the Elite Eight with an 82-72 victory over the Stanford Cardinal at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee.
“It was a true team effort,” Miller said. “That’s what they’ve been about all year, so it’s nice to see on the biggest stage, us be ourselves. The way they shared the ball, the way they moved the ball, I thought we pressured the ball, at times it gave us a chance.”
But it was a freshman, who logs less than 10 minutes a game, who filled in the gaps.
Playing 14 minutes, Kendall Pollard scored a career-high 12 and grabbed two rebounds.
“This guy didn’t check into a couple games and maybe played one minute in a couple games in January and February,” Miller added. “He’s at his best now, and I think that’s just a tribute to not only him, but everybody on our team to kind of stay with it.”
With Dayton in early foul trouble, Pollard scored eight on 3 of 3 shooting from the floor and a pair of free throws as the Flyers took a 42-32 lead into the locker room. His jumper on the break gave Dayton a 26-21 advantage with 8:14 to go in the half. A layup less than two minutes later made a double-digit game at 33-23.
“He’s had a very good bounce about him in terms of confidence, trying to make plays, and not just tonight, he’s helped us in a lot of games,” Miller continued. “In particular right now, I really feel like we can trust him. I feel like we can trust him. He’s earned that with the way he’s prepared. He’s come a long way like a lot of our guys have.”
The Chicago, Illinois native added a pair of layups midway through the second stanza.
“Coach just put faith in me, put me out there for a good amount of minutes,” Pollard stated. “I just tried to capitalize and just do my best out there.”
With Stanford looking to establish their strength inside, Kavanaugh picked up two fouls before halftime as did Jalen Robinson. Devon Scott was whistled for three infractions in just four minutes of playing time.
UD’s bench outscored their counterparts 34-2.
Dayton advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1984. The Flyers will square off with No. 1 seed Florida Gators. Florida defeated UCLA 79-68. Michael Frazier II led four in double figures for the top-ranked Gators. Florida has won 29 straight.