Stuck in neutral: Providence falls 66-53 to Dayton in NCAAs
''Like coach said, it was neutral,'' Providence's LaDonate Henton said. ''We could have put it out if we would have played better.''
The 11th-seeded Flyers (27-8) will face Oklahoma on Sunday night, with a chance to reach the round of 16 for the second straight season.
Sixth-seeded Providence (22-12) could not overcome early foul trouble on Big East player of the year Kris Dunn or a Dayton team buoyed by a legion of fans that made the 80-mile trip to Columbus. Dunn finished with 11 points before fouling out. Henton had 18.
The Friars shot 34 percent and turned it over 16 times.
''No, I don't think we was nervous,'' Henton said. ''I just got to give credit to Dayton defense. They were pretty much everywhere.''
Dayton was playing its fifth game in eight days after reaching the final of the Atlantic 10 Tournament on Sunday in New York, then winning a First Four game against Boise State on its home court Wednesday.
''We feel fine, We have a great opportunity in front of us now. We're not focusing on the games we played. We're focusing on the game we got left,'' said Pierre, who also had nine rebounds.
Jordan Sibert, who made the key late 3 that helped Dayton rally to beat Boise State, scored 15 points.
The Flyers have been the busiest team in the country lately, so they might not have minded the 10:53 ET tip-off. Anything to get a little extra rest. Though both teams played as if it was past their bedtimes in the first 11 minutes. With nine minutes left in the first half, Dayton was up 9-5.
It didn't help Providence that Dunn picked up two fouls in the first five minutes and took a seat for a while.
Things picked up in the final eight minutes, with Henton and Sibert trading late 3s to send Dayton to the break with a 28-25 lead.
Dayton stretched its lead to 44-35 with 10:21 left when Kyle Davis and Pierre hit back-to-back 3s. Providence chipped away, but Sibert responded with another 3 to make it 47-41 with 6:08 left.
Flyers fan decked out in red packed Nationwide Arena and had ''Let's Go Flyers!'' ringing through the rafters.
Providence coach Ed Cooley said on Thursday he didn't mind playing a virtual road game, and that's what he got. Providence shot seven free throws. Dayton shot 30.
''It was a neutral site,'' Cooley said, trying to avoid making any excuse for his team's sloppy play. ''It was neutral.''
The place rocked when Pierre swished another 3 with 4:28 left to make it 50-42. It is doubtful Ohio State would have had any more of an advantage in Columbus.
Then Cooley got hit with a technical during a timeout, after his chair fell over. Providence assistants pleaded with officials that it was a harmless accident, but they couldn't talk Cooley out of the T.
Cooley said he was trying to fire up his team and he didn't even notice the chair hit the hardwood.
''But I'm just trying to coach my team. That's what that was about,'' he said. ''That to me was wrong.''
Officials declined to speak directly to a pool reporter but through Northeastern athletic director Peter Roby, who was acting as a spokesman, they said Cooley threw the chair out of the huddle and it precipitated a call for unsportsmanlike conduct. NCAA coordinator of officials John Adams released a statement supporting the call and citing a rule on bench personnel committing unsportsmanlike acts.
Pierre put it away with 1:59 left, spinning free inside, getting fouled and letting out a scream before completing the three-point play to make it 56-42.
Coach Archie Miller, the brother of Arizona coach Sean Miller, led the Flyers to the Elite Eight last year and is 5-1 in the NCAA tournament - all as an 11 seed. ... Henton is a senior and Dunn might be done at Providence, too. The point guard is projected as a possible first-round NBA draft pick.
Dayton moves on to face the third-seeded Sooners in what will be its sixth game in 10 days.
Providence is done after its first NCAA tournament game for the second straight season.