Butler Wins OT Thriller Over Loyola, 81-74
Sheets' heroics rescued the Bulldogs, who were out-scored 17-1 in the final 7:19 of the game. The Ramblers, paced by sharp-shooting Corey Minnifield, rallied from a 66-50 deficit to tie the game on a pair of Minnifield free throws with 0:08 left. The Bulldogs failed to get off a shot in the closing seconds.
Loyola jumped in front for the first time since the first two minutes of the contest on a three-point field goal by Paul McMillan to open the overtime period. But the Bulldogs charged back with an 8-0 scoring run to take command for good.
Senior Brandon Miller hit a pair of free throws with 3:48 left in the overtime period to bring the Bulldogs to 70-69, before Sheets, who left the game in the first half after colliding with Loyola's Terrance Whiters and suffering a cut above his right eye, put Butler in front for good with an 18-foot jump shot.
Sheets added a layup with 2:24 remaining to give the Bulldogs a 73-70 advantage, before Miller converted a lay-up with 1:31 left. Butler closed the its scoring with four straight free throws by Mike Monserez and a pair of charity tosses by Sheets.
"Avery is a tough competitor," said Butler coach Todd Lickliter after the game.
Sheets received six stitches above his right eye after the game.
The Bulldogs looked like they were going to have a relatively easy evening, building a 24-point lead in the first half and taking a 46-29 advantage to the locker room at halftime.
But Loyola stormed back in the second period behind Minnifield, who hit his first eight three-point field goal attempts in the game! The 6-8 senior finished with a career-high 28 points, hitting eight of 12 three-point attempts. The Ramblers connected on 14 of 14 three-pointers in the contest.
Sheets was one of six Butler players to score in double-figures. Senior Lewis Curry added 13 points, junior Duane Lightfoot tallied 12, Miller and senior Darnell Archey each posted 11 and Monserez finished with 10.
The Bulldogs are back in action at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday, Jan. 11, against Detroit at 12 noon.