Butler Falls On Buzzer-Beater
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Senior guard Alex Thomas nailed a three-point field goal at the buzzer to cap a 12-0 closing run and lift visiting Northern State to a 53-50 victory over Butler in an exhibition game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Nov. 2. The game was Butler's first test against outside competition.
The Wolves battled back from a 50-41 deficit in the final four minutes. A steal and layup by Seth Bachand and a conventional three-point play by Trent Zomer cut the margin to 50-46 with 2:56 left. Forward Collin Pryor followed with back-to-back baskets to tie the game at 50-50 with 0:52 left.
Butler's Andrew Smith, who led all scorers with 19 points missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw situation with 0:38 left, setting up the final play. Following a timeout, Northern State held the ball for a final shot and Thomas delivered from the top of the key as the final buzzer sounded.
"We have a lot of work to do," said Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the game. "We have a lot of time to do it, but the bottom line is we've got to be a lot better in almost every area."
Butler shot just 32.7% (18-55) from the field and 16.7% (3-18) from three-point range. The numbers weren't much better at the free throw line, where the Bulldogs made just 11 of 21 (.524) attempts.
"(Northern State) did a good job of determining we weren't (shooting well). They were going to back off and that's what they did," noted Stevens. "They made us shoot and they made us take shots that to be quite honest in practice we've been hitting. Guys have been shooting it well."
The Bulldogs shot just 25% in the first half and left the court at halftime in a 25-25 tie game. Smith had 10 of Butler's points, while junior Chase Stigall added eight.
Northern State out-scored Butler, 5-4, in the first two minutes of the second half, before the Bulldogs went on a 13-3 run to take a nine-point lead, 42-33. Smith scored the first four points of the run, while sophomore Khyle Marshall added the final six. A layup by freshman Roosevelt Jones and a free throw by Stigall accounted for the other three points.
The Bulldogs then held the upper hand, until the closing three minutes.
Smith hit five of nine shots, including one of four from beyond the three-point arc, and added eight of 12 from the charity stripe for his game-high total. Marshall was the only other Bulldogs to reach double-figures, finishing with 14 points. Pryor led the Wolves with 18 points.
Butler will close out the exhibition season with a home game against Franklin on Saturday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. (ET).