Butler survives in OT, advances to Horizon League championship
Dayton, OH (Sports Network) – Pete Campbell’s 18 points and A.J. Graves’
free throws with 19 seconds remaining in overtime sent 18th-ranked Butler
to a thrilling 67-66 victory over Loyola-Chicago in Horizon League semifinal
action at the Nutter Center.
Brandon Crone scored 17 and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Bulldogs (27-5),
winners in four of their last six. Graves added 12 points, all from the
charity stripe, and Mike Green donated nine points and five assists.
Blake Schilb scored a game-high 29 points for the Ramblers (21-11), who have
dropped two of three. J.R. Blount added 15 points, while Andy Polka
contributed eight points and a team-high 10 boards.
Graves hit the eventual game-winning shots by draining two at the line to
give Butler a 67-64 lead, but the Ramblers answered with a Majak Kou layup for
a 67-66 game with 11 seconds left.
Following Graves’ turnover, Ben Slaton was called upon to give the Ramblers
the lead on their last touch of the period, but his runner in the lane fell
short. Loyola never got a last shot off as Graves atoned for his mistake and
came up with a loose ball at the buzzer.
“It’s gratifying to get a win down the wire,” said Butler head coach Todd
Lickliter. “Our guys hung tough. I’m proud of them.”
With the win, Butler reaches the Horizon League final, and will face either
Wisconsin-Green Bay or Wright State on Tuesday.
Loyola led by five early in the second half, but Campbell hit back-to-back
threes to bring the Bulldogs within 33-31 with five minutes played, and a 5-2
surge after that gave Butler a 36-35 lead with another Campbell make a little
over six minutes in.
Each team would trade baskets from that point, and neither side would lead by
more than two.
Following a Loyola time-out with 14.8 on the clock, Butler had control and
after a Graves miss, the ball bounced off a Butler player at the baseline
giving possession back to the Ramblers with two ticks remaining.
A home-run pass for Schilb found its mark, but his shot hit the back of the
rim as time expired in regulation.
Both sides began the contest neck-and-neck, and when Loyola took a 17-10
lead on an 11-0 run midway through the half, Blount scored 10 of
those points. Butler came roaring back with a 14-2 burst to cut their deficit
to 22-21 with 3:51 left to play when Graves sank a pair from the line.
However, Schilb hit a fadeaway jumper with four seconds to go and the
Ramblers took a 26-23 lead into the break.
“It was a great basketball game,” said Loyola-Chicago head coach Jim
Whitesell. “I’m proud of our guys. It was anyone’s game until the last play.
It’s tough to take. Congratulations to Butler.”
Butler leads the all-time series, 43-29…The Bulldogs hit 49 percent (25-
of-51) from the floor while the Ramblers made just 40 percent (20-of-50) from
the field…Loyola won the battle of the boards, 33-26…Butler’s bench
outscored Loyola 20-15, and had 11 points off Rambler turnovers.