Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bulldogs get another chance

Shelvin Mack, who scores a team-high 24, puts up a shot over VCU’s Joey Rodriguez. “Last year, we didn’t get it done (in the title game),” Mack said. “So that’s in the back of my mind.”

Getty Images

Shelvin Mack, who scores a team-high 24, puts up a shot over VCU’s Joey Rodriguez. “Last year, we didn’t get it done (in the title game),” Mack said. “So that’s in the back of my mind.”

HOUSTON — Maybe this time, that last shot will go in. Maybe this time, Butler won't need it.

The Bulldogs are back in the final — after beating Virginia Commonwealth 70-62 on Saturday — not as lovable underdogs but intent on making up for last year's heartbreak of watching a last-second halfcourt shot carom off the rim in a 61-59 loss to Duke.

"We've just got to be one shot better than last year," said Brad Stevens, coach of the No. 8 seed.

As the Bulldogs walked down the hallway to the locker room, one shouted, "We're not done yet! Unfinished business, baby!"

"Last year, we didn't get it done," said Shelvin Mack, who made 5 of 6 3-pointers and scored a team-high 24. "So that's in the back of my mind."

VCU (28-12) won five games to get to Saturday, including a first-round game. But Butler's defense was too much for the third No. 11 seed to reach the Final Four.

"It was a phenomenal run," coach Shaka Smart said. "It's a historic run. These guys are never going to be forgotten. Make no mistake about it, this one stings."

Bradford Burgess made three 3-pointers in the first seven minutes for VCU but one the rest of the night. Brandon Rozzell, who made six in the second round against Georgetown, was 0-for-3. Overall, VCU made 8 of 22.

"Some of our shots didn't fall; open shots, shots we'd been making," said Joey Rodriguez, who made 1 of 5 3-pointers. "Almost felt like it wasn't supposed to happen or something."

Down 34-28 at halftime, the Rams got a 3-pointer by Jamie Skeen (team-high 27 points) to go up 38-36. Then Butler's Zach Hahn scored all eight of his points in a 90-second span. First came a 3-pointer.

Skeen responded with a three-point play, but Hahn made another 3. Rozzell made a driving layup, but Hahn made a reverse layup that put Butler (28-9) up 44-43 with 12:22 left.

VCU did not make a field goal for 3:31. Meanwhile, Mack made consecutive 3-pointers and a layup to give Butler a 52-45 lead with 9:41 left.

The game was all but over.

"He was a killer," Smart said of Mack. "He stepped up and made some huge, huge shots."

Mack's performance helped make up for a lackluster one by Matt Howard, the Bulldogs' leading scorer who made 3 of 10 shots from the field while scoring 17. (He did draw 10 fouls and made 11 free throws, three more than VCU made as a team.)

Now a year older and wiser, Butler won't be a wide-eyed kid in the title game.

"It's a focused locker room, and we realize there's still a game to play," Howard said.

"And hopefully another game to be won."

Butler 70

VCU 62

Bulldogs get another chance 04/02/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 2, 2011 11:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rowdies settle for draw at home


    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  2. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  3. Rays journal: Cesar Puello, who has one major-league game, claimed off waivers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Looking to add punch to their right-handed lineup, the Rays claimed OF Cesar Puello off waivers Saturday from the Angels.

  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't always look like he's going hard, but he showed impressive reactions Saturday in reversing field to catch a ball that clanked off the catwalk then firing to second to double up Guillermo Heredia on an attempt to tag up.