January 10, 2010

Bulldogs Escape With Overtime Win At Detroit

Sophomore Shelvin Mack scored the go-ahead basket with just under a minute left in overtime and Butler survived a desperation three-point field goal attempt at the buzzer to post a 64-62 victory over Detroit in a first place showdown at Calihan Hall on Sunday, Jan. 10.  The heart-stopping win lifted Butler to 12-4 on the season and kept the Bulldogs unbeaten with a 5-0 mark in the Horizon League.

Mack broke a 62-62 deadlock with a shot jumper in the lane with 0:59 left in the extra period, and Butler’s Gordon Hayward rebounded a missed shot by Detroit’s Chase Simon with 0:42 left to set the closing sequence.  Butler ran the shot clock down to the final second, before Mack committed a turnover.  Detroit’s Woody Payne hustled the ball up-court and found junior Xavier Keeling open on the right wing.

Keeling launched a 30-foot shot that bounced off the rim as the final buzzer sounded.

“That was a hard-fought game,” said Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the win.  “It may not have been aesthetically pleasing at team, because neither team made shots at a great clip.  Both teams were really battling, and from a coaching perspective, both teams were really guarding, making it tough on each other to play and score.”

“We knew this would be tough, and we were fortunate to win,” added the Butler coach.

Defense did rule the afternoon.  Butler wound up shooting just 41.5% (22-53) for the game, including just .28.6% (6-21) from beyond the three-point arc.  Detroit shot just 39.7% (23-58) and 33.3% (4-12) from the three-point line.  Butler’s biggest lead in the game was seven points, 29-22, in the second half, while Detroit’s largest margin was six, 13-7, in the first period.

Detroit (11-6, 4-2 Horizon League) nearly pulled off the upset of the #24-ranked Bulldogs at the end of regulation play.  Two points each by Payne and guard Chase Simon in the final two minutes tied the game at 53-53, before Butler’s Willie Veasley was fouled with 0:20 left.  Veasley made one of two free throws to put the Bulldogs back on top, but Payne responded with a driving lay-up with 0:05 left to give the Titans a 55-54 advantage.

Butler’s Gordon Hayward took the inbounds pass and drove the length of the floor, where he was fouled with 0:00.4 left.  The 6-9 sophomore made the first free throw to tie the game at 55-55, but missed the second sending the game into overtime.

“We had to go the length of the floor and I was just trying to get the ball to the basket,” Hayward said of the final play.  “Willie (Veasley) did a really nice job of getting the ball in to me, and I just tried to get things going to the rim.”

Mack gave Butler a quick lead in the overtime period, but Simon answered with a three-point field goal to put the Titans in front.  Keeling’s lay-up extended the Detroit lead to three, 60-57, but Hayward calmly responded with a three-point field goal to tie the game.

Simon gave Detroit its final lead with a jump shot with 2:58 left, but guard Ronald Nored tied the game at 62-62 with a pair of free throws at 2:43.  Payne, Mack and Simon each missed shots in the final 2:12, before Mack unleashed the game-winner.

Hayward led the Bulldogs with 17 points, while Veasley, Mack and junior Matt Howard each added 10.  Simon led all scorers with 23 points, while Keeling added 14.

The victory gave the Bulldogs a two-game advantage over the rest of the league in the loss column.  Butler returns to action on Thursday, Jan. 14, with a home game against Cleveland State.  That game at Hinkle Fieldhouse is scheduled for 7 p.m.