A ‘surreal’ feeling for Amzil as he makes one of the biggest shots in Dayton history

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Dayton press conference: Anthony Grant and Mustapha Amzil after beating Kansas, Nov. 26, 2021

Flyers beat a top-four team for the first time since 1984 after buzzer beater by Finnish forward.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Almost 38 years after The Shot by Ed Young and more than seven years after The Kiss by Vee Sanford, Mustapha Amzil added his name to list of memorable shots by the Dayton Flyers with The Bounce — or “The Finnish” as some fans were calling it after the game.

» PHOTOS: Dayton vs. Kansas

A 6-foot-9 second-year forward from Finland, Amzil collected a rebound in the corner after Kansas forward David McCormack blocked a shot by Dayton guard Malachi Smith. He took two dribbles to left, into the paint, and lofted a shot over the outstretched hand of Kansas guard Christian Braun.

Amzil had not made a shot in 14 minutes. He had made 2 of 4 free throws. This was his first field-goal attempt. The ball hit the front of the rim and bounced high into the air, hitting the backboard above the square before falling through the net as time expired.

This was a pure buzzer beater, and there was pure chaos on the court as Dayton celebrated a 74-73 victory Friday over No. 4 Kansas in the semifinals of the ESPN Events Invitational at the HP Fieldhouse.

“It was great,” Amzil said. “I had to watch the ball bounce in and down. It’s hard to describe. It’s surreal. It’s a great feeling. I saw the clock when I was driving. I was about to kick it out, but there was just one second so I just had to take the shot.”

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There were 3.8 seconds remaining when the ball touched Amzil’s hands.

“Obviously, great presence of mind by Mustapha to know the clock and give us a chance,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “We’re grateful that the shot fell.”

“Their guy made a heck of a shot,” Kansas coach Bill Self said, “and they deserve it. It was a great basketball game.”

The play started with the freshman point guard Smith, who had cut the Kansas lead to one point on the previous possession with a layup with 44 seconds to play. David McCormack was then called for an offensive foul with 19 seconds left, giving Dayton the ball and one last chance. Grant called timeout with 15 seconds to go.

“Coach drew something up, and he told me to make a play,” Smith said. “I made a play. It got blocked, Mustapha got the rebound. Once I saw that bounce hit the rim, I said, ‘It’s good.’ He made it. I don’t even know what happened after that. We started chasing him.”

Several Dayton assistant coaches were so stunned, they ended up on the floor after jumping into each other. One Dayton fan ran onto the court and hugged forward DaRon Holmes II. Everyone knew what this victory meant. A season on life support six days ago has new life.

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Highlights: Amzil's shot and Dayton's celebration after victory over Kansas on Nov. 26, 2021

The shot was as improbable as the victory, which propels Dayton into the championship game at 4 p.m. Sunday against Belmont or Iona. Consider what it means:

• This is Dayton’s first victory against a top-four team since it beat No. 3 DePaul 72-71 on Feb. 18, 1984, on Young’s shot.

• Dayton is now 9-38 against top-four teams in its history.

• Dayton is now 3-3 with back-to-back victories on a neutral court against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference (Miami) and Big 12 (Kansas) after losing back-to-back-to-back home games to teams from the America East Conference (UMass Lowell), Atlantic Sun Conference (Lipscomb) and Ohio Valley Conference (Austin Peay).

• Dayton ended Kansas’ streak of winning six in-season tournaments in a row: the 2014 Orlando Classic; the 2015 Maui Invitational; the 2016 CBE Classic; the 2017 HoopHall Miami Invitational; the 2018 NIT Season Tip Off; and the 2019 Maui Invitational.

• The last time Kansas lost to a non-conference opponent with a Ken Pomeroy ranking close to No. 119 Dayton, it was No. 138 UMass in 2008.

• Dayton beat Kansas for the first time since the 1968 NIT championship game. It lost to Kansas in the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2009 and in the Maui final two years ago.

Everything pointed to another Dayton loss when it fell behind by 15 points late in the first half. The Flyers cut the deficit to 45-35 at halftime and then grabbed the momentum with a 12-0 run in a two-minute stretch early in the second half. A layup by R.J. Blakney at the 18:01 mark started the run. A 3-pointer by Elijah Weaver at the 16:01 mark tied the game at 49-49.

It was a back-and-forth game until a 7-0 run by Dayton. Moulaye Sissoko capped that run with a layup at the 7:20 mark. Dayton led 68-61.

Dayton had an eight-point lead against Kansas in the final 10 minutes two years ago and lost steam in the final minutes before Jalen Crutcher sent the game to overtime with a last-second pointer. History repeated itself to a certain extent. Dayton turned the ball over on three straight possessions at one point.

Kansas surged ahead and led 73-70 with one minute to go. Everything pointed to a Kansas victory at that point. Somehow the Flyers found a way.

Holmes II led Dayton with 16 points. He was one of five players in double figures. Toumani Camara and Elijah Weaver each scored 14. Smith and Koby Brea each had 10.

Dayton struggled from 3-point range (5 of 17), but so did Kansas (4 of 19). The Flyers committed 20 turnovers to 11 by Kansas. Somehow the Flyers found a way.

“That was a battle,” Grant said. “That was a heck of a game. Give Kansas credit, they’re a heck of a team. Our guys have a tremendous amount of respect for who they are and what they represent. I think every game for our guys is a growing experience and I think today showed them that when they’re locked in and focused on the things that are the most important, that they’re capable of what they did tonight. It was great as a coach to sit there and see.

“In the second half, I thought we did a great job of putting ourselves in position for what happened there late. Kansas turned up the defensive effort at the end and we really struggled down the stretch, but we wanted to give ourselves a chance the last couple of plays. We were able to get stops and we were able to convert on the other end.

SUNDAY’S GAME

Dayton vs. Iona/Belmont, 4 p.m., ESPN2, 1290, 95.7

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Malachi Smith interview: Nov. 26, 2021

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