GREEN BAY, WIS.. -- Senior Matt Howard's slam dunk with 0:01.8 left on the clock lifted visiting Butler to a 64-62 victory over Green Bay in a Horizon League game at the Resch Center on Tuesday (Feb. 15). The win was Butler's fifth straight and boosted the Bulldogs into third place in the league standings.
Howard's decisive basket rescued the Bulldogs (19-9, 11-5 Horizon League), who had led by five points, 62-57, with less than two minutes remaining. Green Bay's Steve Baker cut the margin to two, 62-60, with a three-point field goal at 1:15, and following a Butler turnover, freshman center Alex Brown tied the game with a pair of free throws for the Phoenix at 0:24.
Butler head coach Brad Stevens called timeout with just over four seconds remaining to set-up a final play. The ball was in-bounded to Howard at the top of the key, and he spun and drove the lane, finishing the play with a two-handed dunk with less than two seconds remaining. The 6-8 forward then intercepted Green Bay's half-court pass to end the game.
"The play was designed to fake it and go. I don't know if they jumped out or what, but there was a lane, and I went for it," said Howard of the game-winning play.
"The key to that play was with 4.9 seconds remaining whether there's contact or not, you better go strong, and Matt went as strong as strong gets," added Stevens.
The basket and steal gave Butler its fourth straight win over the Phoenix and a sixth win in the last seven visits to the Resch Center.
Green Bay (12-15, 6-9 HL) jumped in front early, scoring eight of the game's first 12 points, before the Bulldogs rallied to take a 16-8 lead on a three-point field goal by Shelvin Mack with 14:42 left in the first half. The Phoenix did manage to tie the game at 16-16, but Howard put the Bulldogs on top with a three-point field goal, and Butler went on to take a 34-28 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs never trailed in the second half, though Green Bay tied the game on three occasions.
"I thought we traded baskets too much to be comfortable, but as you look at the stat sheet and you get outside of the first ten minutes, I'm guessing our defensive numbers were pretty good," stated Stevens.
Howard led all scorers with 22 points. He hit eight of 15 shots, including three of five from beyond the three-point arc. He also shared Butler's rebounding lead with eight, helping the Bulldogs to a 32-29 rebounding advantage.
Mack finished with 13 points and senior Shawn Vanzant added 12. Sophomore Andrew Smith chipped in with seven points and eight rebounds.
Senior guard Rahmon Fletcher led the Phoenix with 18 points, while Brown added 12.
The Bulldogs, who trail Valparaiso (11-3) and Cleveland State (11-4) in the league standings, will play their final regular season road game at UIC on Saturday, Feb. 19. That game, which will be the featured Horizon League Game of the Week, will start at 1 p.m. (CT) at the UIC Pavilion.