The 11th-seeded Flyers (27-8) will face Oklahoma on Sunday night, with a chance to reach the round of 16 for the second straight season.
Sixth-seeded Providence (22-12) could not overcome early foul trouble on Big East player of the year Kris Dunn or a Dayton team buoyed by a legion of fans that made the 80-mile trip to Columbus. Dunn finished with 11 points before fouling out. LaDontae Henton had 18.
Dayton was playing its fifth game in eight days after reaching the final of the Atlantic 10 tournament on Sunday in New York, then winning a First Four game against Boise State on its home court Wednesday.
Jordan Sibert, who made the key late three-point shot that helped Dayton rally to beat Boise State, scored 15 points.
The Flyers have been the busiest team in the country lately, so they might not have minded the 10:53 EDT tip-off. Anything to get a little extra rest. Though both teams played as if it was past their bedtimes in the first 11 minutes. With nine minutes left in the first half, Dayton was up 9-5.
It didn't help Providence that Dunn picked up two fouls in the first five minutes and took a seat for awhile.
Things picked up in the final eight minutes, with Henton and Sibert trading late 3s to send Dayton to the break with a 28-25 lead.
Dayton stretched its lead to 44-35 with 10:21 left when Kyle Davis and Pierre hit back-to-back 3s. Providence chipped away, but Sibert responded with another three-pointer to make it 47-41 with 6:08 left.
Flyers fan decked out in red packed Nationwide Arena and had “Let's Go Flyers!” ringing through the rafters.
Providence Coach Ed Cooley said on Thursday he didn't mind playing a virtual road game, and that's what he got. Providence shot seven free throws. Dayton shot 30. The place rocked when Pierre swished another three-pointer with 4:28 left to make it 50-42. It is doubtful Ohio State would have had any more of an advantage in Columbus.
Then Cooley got hit with a technical during a timeout, after his chair fell over. Providence assistants pleaded with officials that it was a harmless accident, but they couldn't talk Cooley out of the T.
Pierre put it away with 1:59 left, spinning free inside, getting fouled and letting out a scream before completing the three-point play to make it 56-42.