The University of Dayton basketball team is making its fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance this season.
We’re looking back on some of the best UD individual performances in tournament history. Today, it’s Mike Sylvester and his exhausting triple-overtime fight against mighty UCLA.
Mike Sylvester would eventually be an Olympic gold medalist and a member of UD’s all-century team.
But on the March 1974 night after the senior and his Flyers teammates dropped a 111-100 triple-overtime decision against mighty UCLA in an NCAA tournament regional semifinal– one of the legendary games in UD history – the senior forward was numb.
“I don’t know what to think,” Sylvester said after what a Dayton Daily News reporter described as his “most outstanding game ever.”
“I can’t describe how I feel. I can’t decide whether to be furious or satisfied or what.”
Sylvester collected 36 points and 13 rebounds in the loss against UCLA, which had won seven straight national championships and was a 20-point favorite.
The game was tied 80-80 after regulation, 88-88 after one overtime and 98-98 after two overtimes. UCLA then pulled away from the Flyers in the third overtime. A Donald Smith shot with 14 seconds left in regulation went in, but UD had just called a timeout. A Smith jumper with 5 seconds left in regulation barley missed.
Dayton had the ball again at the end of the second overtime, but UCLA’s defense didn’t allow the Flyers to get a shot off. The third overtime was all Bruins, despite Sylvester’s efforts.
“He was amazing,” said UCLA coach John Wooden. “Defensively, we didn’t play him that bad. He was under great pressure.”
Sylvester averaged 17.1 points as a senior in 1973-74 to cap a career during which he scored 1,248 points (a 15.4-point career scoring average).
He later won a gold medal in the 1980 Olympics playing for Italy.
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