Butler runs out of magic in 68-62 loss to Pitt
By MICHAEL MAROT
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Poor free throw shooting ended Butler's magical March touch.
The team that captivated America each of the last two seasons, made only 5 of 12 free throws over the final eight minutes Wednesday night, missing two with 4.2 seconds left in regulation to help Pittsburgh rally for a 68-62 overtime victory in the College Basketball Invitational tournament.
It's the third consecutive year the Bulldogs have reached a postseason final four and gone home without a title.
Twice they lost in the NCAA's national championship game. This time, they fell just short of making the CBI's best-of-three championship round.
"We had our chances, we had a lot of opportunities to win this game and that's what I told the 13 returnees," coach Brad Stevens said. "We've got to get that taken care of."
It's too late for the Bulldogs to do anything about it now.
Until Wednesday, Butler (22-15) had won 12 of its last 14 postseason tourney games. The only losses came to Duke in the 2010 title game and Connecticut in the 2011 game.
On the way to last year's title game, the Bulldogs beat Pittsburgh in a crazy second-rounder that wasn't decided until Matt Howard made a tie-breaking free throw with 0.8 seconds left and Pittsburgh missed a desperation heave at the end.
This time, it was the Panthers (20-16) who had the late-game heroics.
"It feels good, but they got the most important win," Woodall said. "We didn't look at this as some type of redemption. We just wanted to come out and get a win."
Talib Zanna led the Panthers (20-16) with 15 points, but it was Patterson and Woodall who rallied the Panthers late and helped them surge past the Bulldogs in overtime. Patterson had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Woodall scored all 12 of his points in the game's final 11 minutes.
On a night that Pittsburgh's top scorer, Ashton Gibbs missed all eight of his shots and was held scoreless, coach Jamie Dixon mixed up the strategy and decided to use some of his younger players more extensively.
Patterson and Woodall took care of the rest.
"We know he (Gibbs) struggled shooting today, but that's basically Pitt basketball," Patterson said. "We're all capable of contributing."
Butler (22-15) never trailed over the final 16:31 of regulation and still led 52-49 with 45.9 seconds to go. But Patterson tied the score at 52 with a 3-pointer with 36.3 seconds left, and when the Bulldogs tried to play for the final shot, Roosevelt Jones was fouled with 4.2 seconds to go. He missed both free throws, giving Patterson a chance to win it with a half-court heave. It was well short.
In overtime, things got even worse.
Patterson's short jumper with 1:47 to go broke a 57-57 tie and started a closing 11-5 run to seal the victory.
Ronald Nored finished with four points, four assists and two points in his final college game at Butler. Nored tied Thomas Jackson's career record for steals (207) and played in more postseason games (16) than any player in Butler history.
"We got better over the course of the year, and we had some individuals really step into different roles," Stevens said. "Now we've got to get better in the offseason."
Updated March 22, 2012