As has been the case so many times in his Butler career, Kamar Baldwin hit a big shot late in the game to lead the Bulldogs to a key victory Wednesday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
With the clock running down in a tie game, Baldwin drove inside, stepped back, and drained a three at the buzzer to send Butler (18-5, 6-4) to a 79-76 win over Villanova (17-5, 7-3). This was Butler’s fourth regular-season win over Villanova in the past three seasons, which is particularly impressive when you realize the Wildcats have lost just 12 conference games in that time.
The finish was a great way to cap off an incredible game. The Bulldogs looked to be in control early in the game, but Saddiq Bey and Collin Gillespie kept the Wildcats alive with 29 of the team’s 38 first half points. Butler went into the half with a 42-38 lead, but the game wasn’t as out of hand as it seemed.
The second half was more haymakers from both sides. Butler’s lead swelled to 10 near the start of the half but Bey and Gillespie remained pesky and got it down to four. As the teams traded blows throughout the rest of the half, it seemed like Butler pulled away again when Baldwin hit a three to put the ‘Dawgs up 10 with 5:46 to play.
As you’ve figured out by now, that wasn’t the case. Gillespie and Bey led a charge yet again, and with 25 seconds to go, Bey hit a three to tie the game at 76. Baldwin’s heroics prevailed though, and the Bulldogs picked up another big win.
While Baldwin will be remembered for the final shot, Sean McDermott led the Bulldogs with 21 points on 7-8 shooting. As you likely guessed, Bey and Gillespie led the way for ‘Nova, as Bey had 29 points and Gillespie had 28.
With Seton Hall winning Wednesday night, Villanova is back to being two games behind the Pirates in the loss column, as they host Seton Hall on Saturday. Butler will be off until Sunday, when they’ll head to Milwaukee to face Marquette.