DAYTON, Ohio • The basketball was high in the air — flung to start the celebration — when the buzzer sounded and the Bonnies’ long-awaited March celebration commenced. Players chest-bumped on court. Coach Mark Schmidt jumped and waved his arms.
The crowd at the University of Dayton Arena — a place where St. Bonaventure is usually booed — got caught up in the moment, too. And why not? It had been 48 years since anyone saw something like this out of St. Bonaventure.
Courtney Stockard returned from a hamstring injury and scored 26 points, and Jaylen Adams hit a jumper and three free throws in the final minute Tuesday night, rallying the Bonnies to a 65-58 victory over UCLA and their first NCAA Tournament victory since 1970.
At long last, it was time to party in March.
“It can’t get better,” Schmidt said.
They’ll have more chances. The 11th-seeded Bonnies (26-7) will play sixth-seeded Florida (20-12) in Dallas on Thursday night in the East region. They did interviews, showered and headed for a flight to their next destination.
“Florida’s got four or five days on us, so we’ll be watching tape on the plane,” Schmidt said. “We’ve got a 2 a.m. flight, but it couldn’t be a better flight. Ever.”
St. Bonaventure set a school record with its 26th win. Stockard got the Bonnies in position for the drought-busting tournament victory by leading a late 12-0 run. Adams — who missed 14 of his first 15 shots — closed it out in the final 49 seconds.
UCLA (21-12) was surprised that it got relegated to the First Four for the first time in its history — the Bruins have been to 18 Final Fours.
They had trouble making shots against the Bonnies’ zone defense and matched their season high with 20 turnovers, a disappointing ending to a season that started with an international incident .
UCLA’s Aaron Holiday led the Pac-12 in scoring but couldn’t put his touch on the First Four game. He scored 20 points but had 10 turnovers, including three in the final 29 seconds as the game slipped away.
“I felt like we matched them pretty well,” Holiday said. “We just turned the ball over too much.”
Radford gets first NCAA tourney win • Carlik Jones scored 12 points to go with career highs in rebounds (11) and assists (seven) as Radford beat LIU Brooklyn 71-61 to gain its first NCAA Tournament victory.
Radford (23-12) didn’t play its prettiest game in a battle of teams seeded 16th, but the team from rural southwest Virginia will celebrate briefly before heading to Pittsburgh to play No. 1 seed Villanova on Thursday. The Big South champion Highlanders are making their third tournament appearance and first since 2009.
Ed Polite Jr. had 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Travis Fields Jr. also scored 13 for Radford.
Despite hitting just seven of 23 shots from the floor in the second half, LIU Brooklyn managed to stay within striking distance, even taking the lead briefly early in the second half. The Northeast Conference champion Blackbirds (18-17) got to within a point with five minutes left, but a 9-1 surge by the Highlanders opened up the lead.
Jashaun Agosto scored 16 points and Raiquan Clark added 14 for LIU Brooklyn, which is winless in seven trips to the tournament.
Virginia loses key player • Virginia, the top seed in the tourney, will be without forward De’Andre Hunter, the Atlantic Coast Conference’s sixth man of the year, for the entire event because of a broken left wrist.
The school said that Hunter, a 6-foot-7 swingman who also can play guard, suffered the injury during the ACC Tournament. He will have surgery Monday.
Hunter, a redshirt freshman, averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 rebounds in 33 games, reached double figures 16 times and led the Cavaliers in scoring on six occasions.
Miami’s Brown improving • Miami guard Bruce Brown, who has been sidelined for six weeks because of a foot injury and previously had been ruled out of the Hurricanes’ NCAA tourney game Thursday against Loyola-Chicago, was evaluated Monday by team doctors and they said he is making progress.
Asked about Brown’s availability should Miami win Thursday, caoch JIm Larranaga said: “After that, you make decisions one day at a time.”
Before getting hurt, Brown had started all 19 of Miami’s games, averaging 11.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4 assists. He is a potential lottery pick in the NBA draft.