No. 11 Butler loses at home to Charlotte, 71-67
By JIM JOHNSON
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Butler coach Brad Stevens will remember having possession of the ball with 3 seconds left and the opportunity to take the lead or at least tie the game.
His team couldn't pull it off.
"That's going to bug me," Stevens said.
After trailing by 10 points, the 11th-ranked Bulldogs went on a late run that got them within a point Wednesday night. But it wasn't enough in a 71-67 loss to Charlotte.
Still, Stevens is staying positive.
"One thing that I told our guys in the locker room is that you can't let this one affect your play on Saturday," he said.
Butler will go on the road to Fordham for its second straight game without Andrew Smith, who was out with an abdominal injury sustained in a 59-56 victory over George Washington last week.
Pierria Henry scored 17 points to lead Charlotte, including two late free throws to keep the 49ers ahead.
Chris Braswell and Willie Clayton each had 11 points for the 49ers, who ended a two-game skid.
"I think the right team won," Stevens said. "It probably would have been a disservice if Butler would have won."
The 49ers (18-6, 6-4) went on a 7-1 run late in the game and then withstood a late charge by the Bulldogs that got them within a point.
"Does anybody have a stretcher?" Charlotte coach Alan Major said. "I may need to be carried out of here after that one."
It was certainly a nice homecoming for the coach who grew up in Indianapolis and later attended Purdue, about an hour northwest of the city.
After the 49ers built a 10-point lead, the Bulldogs went on an 8-2 run.
Clarke hit a 3-pointer and the 49ers missed a shot. Kellen Dunham made two free throws to make it 60-55 with 2:20 left.
E. Victor Nickerson hit a jumper and then Clarke made a 3-pointer to make it 62-58 with 1:31 left.
Clarke hit a 3 with 22.6 seconds left to make it 66-61 and then Denzel Ingram made one of two from the line.
"They just hit tough shots," Nickerson said. "It was a big win. That's a good team and we're a good team."
Clarke was fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit all three free throws to make it 67-64, but Henry made one of two from the line.
Clarke hit a deep 3 with 7 seconds left to pull Butler to 68-67. Henry made one of two from the line and the Bulldogs had another chance, but they turned the ball over on an inbounds pass.
"It was going to Rotnei," Stevens said. "But it didn't ever get to the point where he could get the ball."
At that point, the 49ers didn't know what Butler was going to do.
"I didn't know what to expect," Major said. "I was expecting Clarke in some form or fashion, but sometimes when you're expecting that, as a coach, you think they're going the other direction."
Butler shot 39 percent and turned the ball over 11 times. At halftime, the Bulldogs were just 2 of 11 from 3-point range.
Butler turned the ball over right away to start the second half and Ingram scored to give the 49ers a 31-27 lead.
Butler's Erik Fromm, who made his first start of the season, scored on a putback and then Henry was fouled on a shot and converted the three-point play to give the 49ers a 34-29 lead.
Jones scored for Butler and Clayton for Charlotte before Fromm hit a 3 to make it 36-34.
Clayton scored again and Fromm hit another 3-pointer to make it 38-37 with 16:20 left, but Henry answered with a 3-pointer of his own to give the 49ers a 41-37 lead.
Clark scored for the 49ers and Dunham hit a 3 to make it 43-40.
Later, Braswell made two free throws to give the 49ers a five-point lead. Then the 49ers went on a 7-2 run.
Fromm hit a 3-pointer to make it 51-47, but Nickerson made two free throws to extend the lead again.
Updated February 14, 2013