Butler’s time in the Big East Conference has been a huge success to this point, but one thing they had yet to do was win a Big East Tournament game. They can now check that off of their list with a 75-74 win over Seton Hall at MSG.
In what turned into a back and forth second half, the team with the last possession came out on top.
Seton Hall’s Khadeen Carrington gave the Pirates the lead with 11.5 seconds remaining after scoring and getting fouled. He would make the free throw and give the Pirates a 74-73 lead.
Butler’s Kamar Baldwin had a game-high 32 points and had the ball with a chance to win it. He drove inside at the other end, but missed the shot. Bulldogs senior Tyler Wideman, who had never experienced a Big East Tournament win, put in the offensive rebound with 3.8 seconds remaining.
The Pirates had one last chance at the other end, but a desperation three from Myles Powell came up short.
On their fifth try, the Bulldogs have won at MSG in the Big East Tournament. However, like their other trips to MSG it didn’t look good early.
The Pirates got off to a great start and led by as many as 14 points in the first half and shot 65 percent. Butler would hold the Pirates to just 29 percent in the second half, which had more to do with heart than an adjustment to the gameplan.
“It was more will than strategy,” Butler coach Lavall Jordan said. “We had to fight better in the post. Our help side had to be better. It came down to rebounding. That’s was it came down to at the end, getting to the glass.”
The Bulldogs were outrebounded by nine on the glass, but had the one that mattered at the end of the game.
For the Butler seniors, this one meant a whole lot as they had never won at the Garden in a conference tournament. The key in their eyes was continuing to stay true to how they play.
“Just continuing our style,” Baldwin said. “Our motto is gritty not pretty.”
Getting a win at MSG was on the bucket list for the Butler seniors like Wideman and Kelan Martin who had experienced heartbreak before at the Garden. This time they triumphed and did it in style.
“That’s a heck of a way to finish a night at Madison Square Garden,” Jordan said. “That was an epic ending to a great day of Big East basketball. It was a big goal of (the seniors) was to get a win at the Big East Tournament.”
For Seton Hall, they fought hard and made big plays down the stretch but they could not get one last rebound at the end. Now they look at the positives as this banged up team will get some extra rest.
“You have two teams that know each other,” Seton Hall Coach Kevin Willard said. “I thought that was a typical Big East game. This is first time we will get rest before the NCAA Tournament. We are going to take the rest.”
Willard added, “Getting (Desi Rodriguez and Ismael Sanogo) back healthy and with the way our young guys are playing I like where we are at.”
Sanogo and Rodriguez played and made an impact, but were limited in minutes due to their ankle injuries. With the rest both are expected to play and hopefully play more in the NCAA Tournament.
The Pirates will rest up for the NCAA Tournament and will wait to see where they get seeded as they look to pick up their first win in the dance since 2004.
Butler advances to play Villanova in the Big East semifinals tomorrow after the two teams split during the regular season.
It will be Xavier-Providence and Butler-Villanova at MSG tomorrow with spots in the Big East Tournament! See you then!