With starting point guard Aaron Thompson back, the Butler Bulldogs resembled the tough team that fans remember from December and to start the season, as they led the Seton Hall Pirates for the majority of Wednesday night’s game.
Unfortunately, despite a late rally, the Bulldogs eventually came up just short and were TKO’d in heart-breaking fashion at the buzzer, 74-72.
After leading 34-28 at halftime, the Bulldogs, who led by as many as 10 points in this one, would lead until the 11:08 mark in the second half–when Seton Hall took the lead 45-44 on a Myles Powell made jumper.
The Bulldogs and Pirates traded blows back-and-forth, until Seton Hall looked like they were firmly in control late following a Romaro Gill dunk–which put them up 68-63 with 1:05 left in the game.
Butler would not go quietly into the night though.
Jordan Tucker hit a three point shot with 0:35 seconds left in regulation to close the gap to two points, 68-66.
McKnight would then hit two more free throws, but McDermott wasn’t done, as he knocked down another three point shot for the Bulldogs, tying the game at 72-72 with 0:12 seconds left to cap off a spirited Bulldogs’ comeback attempt.
Unfortunately, on the ensuing Seton Hall possession, it looked like the ball may have gone off Pirate guard Shavar Reynolds out of bounds, but instead, the officials stuck with what was initially called on the court, and it was still Seton Hall’s ball with a now adjusted 0.6 of a second left in regulation.
With starting center Bryce Golden fouled out, head coach LaVall Jordan put in freshman center John-Michael Mulloy for size (presumably to help swat away a tip attempt at the rim), and he was unable to prevent Sandro Mamukelashvili from hitting the game winning shot at the buzzer–who to his credit, hit a very difficult shot just before time expired.
It was a heart-breaking loss for the Bulldogs–who battled back, and showed a lot of the grit and toughness fans were so accustomed to seeing to start the season.
All-Big East guard Kamar Baldwin led the way for the Bulldogs with 20 points (7-13 FG, 1-5 3 PT), 6 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals.
Four of Butler’s five starters were in double figures scoring, as the Bulldogs shot 49.1% from the field (27-55 FG) and 33.33% from the 3 point line (7-21, 3 PT).
Meanwhile Seton Hall shot 46.2% from the field (24-52 FG) and 37.5% from the 3 point line (6-16, 3 PT), as McKnight was their leading scorer with 18 points–including 10-11 from the free throw line, while All-Big East guard Myles Powell chipped in 16 points (5-15 FG, 1-5 3 PT).
The road doesn’t get any easier for #21 Butler (19-8, 7-7 Big East), who will travel to #15 Creighton (20-6, 10-4 Big East) this Sunday, 3 PM CST (FS1)–as the red hot Blue Jays have won 8 of their last 9 games and Omaha is one of the most difficult Big East road destinations to win at.