Butler blows lead, loses to Xavier 67-61 in OT at Big East
NEW YORK (AP) — Once again, it was one and done for Butler at the Big East Tournament.
Jalen Reynolds converted a three-point play with 3:22 left in overtime that put Xavier ahead for good, and the Musketeers rallied past No. 22 Butler 67-61 on Thursday night in a tense quarterfinal.
“We anticipated it was probably going to come down to the last 5 minutes,” Bulldogs coach Chris Holtmann said. “We certainly would have liked to have more quality possessions when we had the lead than what we did. Again, you have to give them some credit for making some plays.”
Alex Barlow had a career-high 22 points for third-seeded Butler (22-10), still looking for its first Big East Tournament win after two years in the league. Kellen Dunham scored 17 and Kameron Woods grabbed 14 rebounds, but both fouled out in overtime — costing the Bulldogs in a game they led most of the way.
Minus its leading scorer (Dunham) and rebounder (Woods), Butler was unable to make the plays it needed down the stretch.
“I think any time you play a team that has a lot of familiarity with each other, it’s bone on bone,” Holtmann said. “It comes down to, can you make free throws? Can you take care of the ball a little bit better? Xavier did a better job than us tonight.”
Matt Stainbrook, Dee Davis and Myles Davis each scored 13 points to lead five players in double figures for the sixth-seeded Musketeers (20-12), who have reached the conference semifinals in both seasons since joining the Big East.
They play 23rd-ranked and second-seeded Georgetown in the doubleheader finale Friday night.
“It seems like every time we play Butler here over the last five or six years, they’re just gritty games,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said.
Woods fouled out on a layup by Reynolds, who added the free throw to give Xavier a 59-56 lead. Reynolds, who finished with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, hit another free throw and then fouled out himself with 2:04 to play.
Trevon Bluiett made a free throw with 1:40 left, then missed the second. Stainbrook grabbed the rebound — he pulled down 10 in all — and Myles Davis followed up another offensive rebound with a basket that made it 63-58 with 1:05 left.
“We scouted them really well. We knew their stuff. We just wanted to make sure we didn’t get out-toughed,” Stainbrook said.
Dee Davis opened overtime with a three-point play for Xavier, which erased a 10-point deficit in the first half and climbed out of a nine-point hole in the second period.
Barlow nailed a 3-pointer to tie it before Reynolds made his big play.
Xavier pulled even at 53 when Bluiett hit a 3 with 2:36 remaining in regulation, and neither team scored the rest of the half.
The Musketeers had the ball in the final seconds with a chance to win, but Barlow stole it from Stainbrook and came up just short with an on-line heave from halfcourt at the buzzer.
Andrew Chrabascz had 16 points for the Bulldogs. They started the second half with a 14-3 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Dunham that gave Butler a 42-33 edge with 14:10 remaining.
Then the Bulldogs went almost six minutes without scoring as Xavier began to chip away at the lead.
Butler’s bulldog mascot, yelping away in his navy blue sweater with a white B on the crest, drew a crowd of eager photographers in the corner of the court during pregame warmups.
The team came out fired up, too.
Barlow hit two of his three first-half 3s in the opening 3:20 and Butler built a 10-point lead less than five minutes into the game.
“My teammates did a great job finding me. I kind of got in a rhythm in the first half a bit,” Barlow said.
Xavier: The Musketeers improved to 5-2 against Top 25 teams this season. ... Xavier got 25 points off the bench to none for Butler. ... Xavier scored 16 points in the first half off nine Butler turnovers.
Butler: The Bulldogs fell to 4-8 Madison Square Garden. ... Butler, which set a school record by making all 20 free throws last Saturday in a win at Providence, went 10 for 19 from the line (52.6 percent). “Obviously, we’ve got to do a better job of knocking them down,” Holtmann said. “When we’ve lost a couple of close games this season, a couple times it’s been because of free throw shooting.”
The teams split two regular-season meetings, with each winning by double digits at home. And while Xavier and Butler might be relative newcomers to the Big East, they’re plenty familiar with each other. They also squared off as conference rivals in the Atlantic 10 and Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now the Horizon League). Butler won the previous meeting in a conference tournament, 78-61 in 1992 in the MCC. Xavier leads the all-time series 35-18, winning 14 of the last 18 and seven of the past nine matchups.
“People have said it’s a rivalry. Obviously, the location makes it unique. It’s pretty close. We certainly recruit against each other,” Holtmann said. “It’s always an intense, physical game, and we anticipated that. ... We wish we pulled it out.”
Xavier: The Musketeers won both regular-season meetings with Georgetown, by an average of 15 points.
Butler: Waiting on an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.