New York Dayton denied last year’s national champs another title and took home one of its own for the first time in 42 years.
Marcus Johnson scored 20 points and the Flyers handed North Carolina one more disheartening loss, beating the Tar Heels, 79-68, Thursday night to win the NIT.
Reserve guard Paul Williams added 16 points for No. 3 seed Dayton (25-12), which bounced back from a disappointing year to capture its third NIT title and first since 1968.
Picked to win the Atlantic 10 Conference, the Flyers faded late and missed the NCAA Tournament before turning things around and ending on a high note.
Will Graves shot North Carolina back into the game in the second half, finishing with 25 points for the fourth-seeded Tar Heels (20-17).
Blakely wins dunk contest
Indianapolis — Vermont’s Marqus Blakely beat Bradley’s Chris Roberts in the college slam dunk contest Thursday night. Maryland’s Eric Hayes won the men’s three-point contest, hitting his last shot to beat Ryan Wittman of Cornell, 17-15, in the final.
Detroit’s Brigid Mulroy beat Notre Dame’s Ashley Barlow, 16-11, in the women’s three-point final. Hayes then beat Mulroy, 22-21.
NCAA likes 96 teams
Indianapolis — The NCAA has concluded that a 96-team field would be the best fit if it expands the men’s basketball tournament. The organization has looked at expansion for years and seems to have zeroed in on a 96-team format. It would be played in the same time frame as the current model and would include first-round byes for 32 teams.
NCAA vice president Greg Shaheen said Thursday that the proposal has not be ratified. It depends in part on whether the NCAA or CBS opt out of their current $6 billion television deal.
Houston hires Dickey
Houston — James Dickey has been hired as Houston’s basketball coach, putting him in charge of a program for the first time since he was fired from Texas Tech in 2001. Dickey replaces Tom Penders, who resigned less than two weeks ago after leading the Cougars to their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1992.
Smith, Minnesota talking
Indianapolis — Tubby Smith is working on a contract extension at Minnesota — not looking for a new job. Rumors this week suggested Oregon would make a big-dollar offer to make Smith the successor to the recently fired Ernie Kent.
Pettersen opens with 67
Rancho Mirage, Calif. — Suzann Pettersen shot a bogey-free 5-under 67 on Thursday in the Kraft Nabisco Championship to take a one-stroke lead over former champion Lorena Ochoa.
Two tied at Houston Open
Humble, Texas — Kevin Stadler and Cameron Percy shot 5-under 67s to share the first-round lead in the Houston Open.
Browns’ Rogers arrested
Cleveland — Cleveland Browns nose tackle Shaun Rogers was arrested Thursday at Hopkins International Airport for carrying a loaded gun in his carry-on luggage.
Seattle LB gets probation
Seattle — Seahawks starting linebacker Leroy Hill has received 12 months of probation in Georgia after pleading guilty to a charge of marijuana possession.
Jaguars keep Hayward
Jacksonville, Fla. — Defensive end Reggie Hayward has signed a one-year contract with Jacksonville.