One defensive stop. One clutch shot. One fortuitous bounce.
Any of those would have done it for Dayton, which was that close to playing for a championship at the Maui Invitational.
Vee Sanford missed a contested shot down low with 2 seconds left and Devin Oliver's tip-in attempt bounced off the rim just before the buzzer as the Flyers lost 67-66 to No. 18 Baylor on Tuesday night despite leading most of the way.
"I don't know how I missed it," Oliver said.
After beating No. 11 Gonzaga on Monday, the Flyers opened a 14-point cushion against Baylor and had a great shot at their second upset of a ranked team in two nights.
Instead, they let it slip away.
"It didn't happen and now obviously you need to take the good with the bad," coach Archie Miller said. "You swallow it and be mature about it and be ready for our third game in three days."
Dayton, which didn't receive any votes in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, will play California in the tournament's third-place game Wednesday.
Baylor will face No. 8 Syracuse for the championship.
Trailing nearly the entire game, Baylor (6-0) whittled away a 10-point deficit over the final 7 minutes. The Bears were down by one when Kenny Chery missed a jumper off the front of the rim, but Cory Jefferson was all alone for the rebound and his layup gave Baylor a 67-66 lead with 16 seconds to go.
"We led 1-zip and we finished leading by one," Bears coach Scott Drew said. "Everything else was chasing Dayton."
Royce O'Neale and Chery had 13 points each for Baylor. Jefferson, Gary Franklin and Isaiah Austin added 10 apiece.
"We just wanted to be tough. Our mental toughness was in question as a team, so we just wanted to stay together, be tough and try to pull one out and that's what we did," Chery said.
Jordan Sibert led Dayton (5-1) with 20 points and Oliver had 14.
Baylor trailed by 14 with less than 5 minutes left in the first half before going on a nine-point run to cut it to 33-28 at halftime.
Dayton built the lead back up over the first part of the second half behind Sibert, but missed seven of its last 10 shots.
"For about 30 minutes in that game our guys looked about as good as any team in college basketball," Miller said.
But he thought the Flyers lost the necessary intensity in the final minutes.
"We just gave them too many opportunities to slice into us," Miller said.
O'Neale's 3-pointer trimmed Dayton's lead to 63-62 with 2:19 remaining. Oliver answered with a 3 but then Franklin hit from beyond the arc to make it 66-65 with 1:22 to play.
After a Baylor timeout, Oliver missed a jumper and the Bears grabbed the rebound.
Baylor shot just under 58 percent in the second half after shooting less than 42 percent before the break. The Bears finished 25 of 50 and had more second-chance points and points off turnovers than the Flyers.
"It was a great game to watch, a typical Maui-type game," Drew said.
Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia