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Florida 62, Dayton 52: Gators Make Final Four

After three straight Elite Eight losses, Florida broke through with a win over Dayton.

Kevin C. Cox

Florida finally broke through to the Final Four again with a 62-52 win over Dayton. It's Billy Donovan's fourth career Final Four, after losing in the 2000 national championship game and winning the 2006 and 2007 national titles.

The first half was close for a while as Dayton made some outside shots and even scrapped its way to a couple of narrow leads. The Gators' superiority really took over in the final seven minutes of the half, as UF outscored UD by a 19-3 margin in that span to take a 14-point lead into intermission. Over the second half, Florida maintained its lead for the most part. Dayton did manage to cut it to less than 10 a couple times, but Florida dominated the glass too much for the Flyers to have a good chance to snipe the victory late. UD scored just five points in the last dixm minutes, and Scottie Wilbekin sealed the deal from the free throw line.

Wilbekin was the player of the game, scoring 23 points. Patric Young, who was too quick for Dayton's big men, had 12 points and six boards. Dyshawn Pierre had 18 for the Flyers, while Devin Oliver was the only other player in double figures with 12.

We'll have more on this win later, but it's a big moment for the Gators, who finally are making the Final Four for the first time in seven years. A special year just keeps getting better.