Traffic is a common occurrence, but for fans of the Dayton Flyers, it’s a usual event every gameday. A trip across the Great Miami River leads to the Flyers’ athletic complex. It became the same ritual for Bonnies fans heading to the University of Dayton Arena for the team's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012.
Snow, sleet and hail pounded down on the car as we made our way towards Dayton. Mother Nature tried to steer the Bonnies faithful away, but despite her efforts, the Bonnies made their way through the tundra towards Ohio.
The sun slowly set over Welcome Stadium as we could see UD Arena through the openings of the concourse. There was not as much of a buzz for Bonaventure as we rolled up to the arena. Fans of Radford and LIU Brooklyn filled the arena with a mixture of black and red scattered through the stands. As we looked through the seats, some prominent Bona's alumnus featured on the name tags in press row along with student counterparts.
The Bonnies students still made their efforts known, scattered in patches across the arena. While there was separation between the groups, a resounding “Let’s go Bona's” ripped up into the rafters of the arena.
There were also Dayton fans who showed up to support their Atlantic 10 counterparts. While not all the Dayton fans were cheering, their solidarity with the Bonnies proved to be an important part of the atmosphere.
The game was exhilarating. While the shooting performances from both sides were not quality, the teams managed to keep the game close and exciting. Every moment felt important. The drama built up throughout the game starting at tip-off. “Was Courtney going to play?” Stockard did end up playing and had 24 points and four rebounds.
Jaylen Adams had a tough time shooting, going 2-16 from the field, but Adams came up clutch when needed, sinking two free throws to secure the Bonaventure win.
When the final buzzer sounded. Adams ran towards his teammates. The fans left in the arena met the Bonnies with thunderous applause. The team had given the fans something they hadn’t had since the ‘70s – a win in an NCAA Tournament. The Bonnies won 65-58 and are in Dallas, Texas, where they will face the No. 6 Seed Florida Gators on Thursday.
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