Dayton survives five overtimes
Just because a college is named Providence, that doesn’t mean it has the corner on divine direction.
When it came to getting extra help Thursday, the University of Dayton was the lone beneficiary of miracles, both big and small, as it defeated Providence College 79-77 in five nerve-twisting overtimes. Dayton is 13-4; Providence is 9-9.
A loud UD Arena crowd of 9,669 sat through the longest game ever by either school. Dayton had gone three overtimes with Duquesne last season, winning 103-100. Providence had played four overtimes in 1959 before it defeated Villanova 90-83.
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Three free throws by junior guard Kevin Conrad in the final 1:37 of the fifth overtime period provided the eventual winning points. Before those freebies dropped, at least eight players made contributions toward bringing Dayton back from the dead.
“It all happened tonight,” UD coach Don Donoher, totally drained of emotion. “Things that won’t happen in a season or 10 years or even a career. You sit around the office in the offseason creating all these hypothetical situations and what you would do. They all happened tonight. I’ve never been involved in a game that had so many miracles. You may not see that many happen in a career.”
Will this go down as one of Dayton’s greatest victories?
“I don’t know about that, but it will be one of the most memorable because of all the things that happened; that we came back so many times when it appeared we were dead,” said Donoher. “I look at great victories as ones you get on the road or in tournament games, but I’ll remember this one for a long time.”
Dayton began coming back in the second half. It played probably its worst first half of the season, trailing by 10 points at one time and down, 33-26, at the intermission. It was hard to tell if the offense or defense was sending a fouler aroma through the building.
“I told our guys at halftime they were an embarrassment,” said Donoher. “I went out there the second half with five guys I thought would play defense and give a good effort.”
The five were Mike Kanieski, Mike Reichert, Sean McNally, Larry Schellenberg and Conrad. Schellenberg and Reichert had been in the starting lineup, replacing Paul Hawkins and Mike Gorney. It was the first college start for Schellenberg. McNally came in in the second half for Roosevelt Chapman, whose defense was severely lacking the first 20 minutes.
The move proved to be the first of a multitude of good ones Donoher made. McNally played inspired ball, scoring six of UD’s first 12 points, two on slam dunks as the Flyers grabbed a 38-36 lead at 16:09.
From there, the game settled into a pattern of tight defense and deliberate, time-consuming offense that would carry through all the overtimes.
Dayton almost pulled it out in regulation. With the score 54-54, Conrad drove the lane with three seconds left and put up a shot. It came off the board, skimmed the rim and fell out.
“I knew it was short when I let it go,” he said.
From that point, the contest became a drama in which every pass and movement counted for both teams.
Overtime I — What may have been the biggest miracle of all occurred in the final three seconds. Providence had taken a 60-58 lead with five seconds left on two free throws by Ron Jackson, who had 24 points.
Dayton called time following the free throws and set up a play. Schellenberg inbounded the ball to Chapman at halfcourt with a baseball pass, and Chapman called timeout with four seconds left. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Schellenberg hit Chapman with a high pass. Chapman came down with one foot on the out-of-bounds line, giving Providence the ball with the lead and three seconds showing on the clock.
When Providence went to inbound the ball, the 6-5, 210-pound Jackson was called for a charging foul as he ran over the 6-1, 170-pound Conrad, turning the ball over to Dayton.
Schellenberg was again the trigger man on the inbounds pass. He found the 6-10 Kanieski deep in the right corner facing the basket. The senior center from Cleveland, who finished with a game-high 25 points, took one dribble, squared up to the basket and dropped in a 22-footer that barely hit the rim as the buzzer sounded to tie it at 60.
Providence coach Joe Mullaney was in a deep depression after the game.
“That play really bothers me more than any other,” he said. “I can understand all the other things happening, but we had it won there. We made a mistake letting them get the ball and another mistake letting Kanieski get it in bounds. When I saw him get it, I knew we might be in trouble.”
Overtime II — Caution again prevailed as Providence scored first and UD countered as it ended at 62. The only excitement came with two seconds left when Schellenberg threw a shot three-quarters the length of the floor. The ball hit the backboard and lipped off the rim.
Overtime III — Miracle time again. Providence led 65-64 on a free throw by freshman Keith Lomax with 14 seconds left. Dayton got the ball and called time with 10 seconds remaining. The final shot was designed to go to Kanieski. It worked as diagrammed. Kanieski got the ball on the right side, moved to the basket and put up a jumper with two seconds left.
The shot was too hard and came off. McNally was in a good rebound position and tipped the ball up where Kanieski might have a chance of dropping it back in. As Kanieski went for the ball, he was fouled by Providence center Otis Thorpe with no time remaining.
It was not a shooting foul but was the seventh team foul on the Friars, sending Kanieski to the free-throw line for the one-and-bonus. He bottomed out the first one to make it 65-all but missed the second, which would have won it.
“I knew the first one was good,” said Kanieski. “I thought the second one was, too.”
Overtime IV — God must have been enjoying this one too much to let it end because He gave UD yet another break. As you may have figured, it came down to the final four seconds and Providence was ahead. This time it was 69-67 on a low-post jumper by Lomax with four seconds left.
UD called time and used the exact play it had in the first OT — Schellenberg with the baseball pass to Chapman at halfcourt; timeout with three seconds left.
The final shot was again to be taken by Kanieski. Schellenberg put up a high pass that looked almost like a Hail Mary in football. Kanieski was the wide receiver, and he drew a crowd of three defenders. The ball went off his hands toward the basket, and George Morrison was there to grab it with one second left and lay it in at the buzzer to tie it at 68.
Morrison makes every layup an adventure with a less than gentle touch around the basket.
“It was a miracle I didn’t miss the shot,” said Morrison. “I miss it all the time in practice. I was just in the right spot at the right time. It was all reaction.”
Overtime V — After playing from behind all night, the Flyers scored first, with Kanieski dropping in a layup off the lob pass at 4:22 to make it 71-69. Providence had a chance to tie it when Thorpe went to the free-throw line for a one-and-one at 4:08. He misfired and Morrison got the rebound.
The UD lead stretched to 73-69 when Kanieski put in a rebound off a missed Conrad free throw at 2:52.
“Once we got that lead, it gave us some room to start protecting it and running our own game,” said Kanieski.
In the final 2:30, the Flyers played keep-away, with Providence fouling to get the ball. It was good strategy considering UD’s 68 percent shooting from the line. Dayton proved less than true to form, making only 6 of 15 attempts.
“They kept fouling our good shooters, but we couldn’t put them down,” said Donoher. “We had chances to go up six several times, but couldn’t and they came right back.”
Conrad put in a free throw with seven seconds left to make it 79-77. This time it was Providence’s turn to look for a miracle. It called time with three seconds left and set up a final shot. It got the ball inbounds to guard Ricky Tucker, who threw up a 30-footer from out front.
The ball looked good, but hit the back of the iron.
No miracles were left, Dayton had used them all.