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Just like Butler didn't draw it up

Andrew Smith, left, and Matt Howard celebrate after the ball bounces Butler’s way in the final second. “Fortunately, we had just enough time,’’ Howard said of his winning shot against ODU.

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Andrew Smith, left, and Matt Howard celebrate after the ball bounces Butler’s way in the final second. “Fortunately, we had just enough time,’’ Howard said of his winning shot against ODU.

WASHINGTON — Sometimes, a game-winning play is craftily designed and enacted with precision by each player on the floor.

And sometimes, the decisive basket is the result of an enormous amount of luck.

The play that Butler used to beat Old Dominion 60-58 on Thursday fell squarely into the latter category. Afterward, the Bulldogs made no apologies.

Matt Howard's putback at the buzzer carried the eighth-seeded Bulldogs past ninth-seeded ODU. The play was not what Butler coach Brad Stevens had in mind when he sent his team to the floor with the score tied and 32 seconds left.

Guard Shawn Vanzant was driving to the basket from the right side when he lost his footing and threw the ball toward the rim. Teammate Andrew Smith slapped the ball out of the air off the backboard, and Howard went up with his right hand and put the ball in from the left side an instant before time expired.

"We were fortunate to win," Stevens said. "It didn't look pretty and that's not exactly the way you want it to end by any means, but they were in the right spots."

"A lot of credit has got to go to Andrew, who made a great play to keep it alive," Howard said. "I tried to get it up as quickly as possible, and fortunately we had just enough time."

Howard and Shelvin Mack each scored 15 points for Butler (24-9), which has won 10 straight.

Frank Hassell led Old Dominion (27-7) with 20 points. Hassell was in the lane during the final play, but couldn't get his hand on the ball.

"Howard came across and got it and threw it in on me," Hassell said. "Lucky bounce for a good player. I mean, you work hard, you get some of those."

Asked to describe his emotions when the ball dropped through the rim, Hassell said, "Shocked, really. I was praying to God that the red light came on before the ball left his hands. Then when I saw the replay, shock turned to hurt."

The game featured 21 lead changes, and neither team led by more than six.

Old Dominion came in with the best rebounding margin in the country, and Butler's effort to overcome that obstacle — and keep Hassell under control in the paint — became tougher after the 6-foot-8 Howard picked up his third foul with 16:36 left. Smith, a 6-11 center, got his fourth foul 40 seconds later.

Howard remained in and Smith was replaced by Garrett Butcher, who scored six straight points in an 8-1 run that put Butler ahead 49-43.

Old Dominion answered with a 6-0 spurt that began with a 3-pointer by Darius James with 10:09 to go. The Monarchs' next field goal came more than 7½ minutes later, but the basket by Hassell sparked a six-point run that tied it with 32 seconds left.

Butler found a way to win, albeit not exactly how Stevens drew it up.

"I had no doubt that we were going to win the game," Howard said. "I didn't think we were going to win it that way, but when you've been in those situations, you have confidence that you're going to be able to pull it out."

pitt 74, unc asheville 51: The top-seeded Panthers (28-5) called a timeout when their lead was cut to six with 15:22 to play, then dominated from there in Washington.

The No. 16 seed Bulldogs (20-14), with no starters taller than 6-5, were outrebounded 50-27. Pitt had 22 offensive rebounds.

"In the first half we played really poorly, careless with the ball," said Pitt's Gary McGhee. "We didn't move the ball around. We didn't get the loose balls. But then in the second half, we turned it up."

Pitt's Ashton Gibbs scored 20 of his 26 in the second half.

"It was a difficult game for us, but we battled them well in the first half,'' UNC Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach said.

BYU 74, Wofford 66: Jimmer Fredette, the nation's leading scorer, dropped in 32 to lead the third-seeded Cougars (31-4) past the 14th-seeded Terriers (21-13) in Denver.

Fredette added seven assists to help the Cougars set a school record for victories.

The Terriers lost in the first round for the second straight year, but gave BYU a game. BYU played with a six- or eight-point lead for most of the second half.

Fredette forced some shots and was held to 2 of 9 from 3-point range, but Wofford, the eighth-best 3-point shooting team in the country, was 4 of 19 from behind the arc. Outside of post man Noah Dahlman, who scored 22, Wofford's key players shot poorly.

Wisconsin 72, Belmont 58: Jon Leuer scored 17 of his 22 in the second half and the fourth-seeded Badgers (24-8) methodically dispatched the 13th-seeded Bruins (30-5) in Tucson, Ariz.

Jordan Taylor added 21 for Wisconsin, 14 in the first half.

The Badgers made 12-of-22 3-pointers, led by Taylor's 5 of 9.

The Wisconsin offense came back after a 36-33 loss to Penn State in the lowest-scoring game in Big Ten tournament history.

Mike Hedgepeth scored 17 for Belmont, which is 0-4 in the NCAA Tournament.

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Just like Butler didn't draw it up 03/18/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 18, 2011 5:01pm]

    

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