Dec. 30, 2002
Senior Brandon Miller nailed a three-point field goal with 0:02.4 left on the clock to lift Butler to a 63-60 victory over Western Kentucky in the second round of the Outrigger Hotel Rainbow Classic on Sunday, Dec. 29. The dramatic shot sends the Bulldogs into the tournament championship game against host and defending champion Hawaii on Monday, Dec. 30.
Miller only had one field goal in the game, but it was the biggest shot of the contest. Butler gained possession of the ball with 0:36 left, following a basket by Western Kentucky's Nate Williams that tied the game at 60-60. Miller ran the clock down and then pulled up and drilled the game-winner from about 25 feet away. The Hilltoppers tried to throw a pass to midcourt, following a timeout, but the ball bounced off guard Patrick Sparks and Miller recovered it to seal the victory.
"We ran a high ball screen and when they switched, I knew I had a bigger player on me," said Miller after giving Butler its season-opening tenth straight win. "When I started to drive at him, he stepped back, so I pulled up and shot it."
Miller's shot rescued the Bulldogs, who nearly let a 10-point second half lead slip away. The Hilltoppers, who trailed 46-36 with 13 minutes remaining, scored five consecutive points in the final two minutes to tie the game for the first time since early in the first half. Butler missed two shots and a free throw during the Hilltoppers' late run.
Butler started quickly behind the hot shooting of junior Mike Monserez and freshman Avery Sheets. After falling behind, 12-10, seven minutes into the contest, Monserez and Sheets each nailed a pair of three-point field goals to give the Bulldogs a 22-12 advantage ten minutes into the game.
The Bulldogs stretched that margin to 15 at 32-17 with 2:26 left in the first half on a basket by Duane Lightfoot, but the Hilltoppers scored the final eight points of the first half, including a three-pointer by Sparks at the buzzer, to close to within seven, 32-25.
Butler maintained a lead throughout the second half, until Williams tied the game with less than a minute remaining.
Senior Darnell Archey led the Bulldogs in scoring for a third consecutive game with 14 points, including three of nine from three-point range. Archey also converted five free throws in the contest, stretching his string of consecutive free throws made to 71. The national record, held by Gary Buchanan of Villanova, is 73 consecutive free throws.
Sheets and Monserez each added 12 points for the Bulldogs, while Lightfoot and senior Joel Cornette finished with eight points apiece. Filip Videnov led Western Kentucky (6-5) with 18 points, while Williams added 15.