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Butler Bulldogs Fall to No. 1/1 Villanova At the Wells Fargo Center

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs, looking for a rebound win after an OT loss to #5/5 Xavier, traveled to face the #1/1 Villanova Wildcats at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, February 10. Butler senior F Kelan Martin and sophomore G Kamar Baldwin combined for 55 points, but Villanova used a 51-point second half to take an 86-75 win. Villanova improves to 23-2 (10-2 BIG EAST) while Butler falls to 17-9 (7-6 BIG EAST).

“We’ve got a lot of competitors in our locker room and they hate to lose,” said Butler Head Coach LaVall Jordan. “But we fought and Villanova made some tough plays in the second half. On the defensive end, we just couldn’t string together enough stops. Offensively, their zone kept us out of the lane. We had good looks that we normally knock down, but they didn’t go down today. That happens.”

The Bulldogs opened the game with a 5-0 start on a jumper and three from sophomore G Kamar Baldwin at the 18:36 first half mark. The lead grew to 10-4 after a jumper and three from senior F Kelan Martin at the 17:14 first half mark. The Wildcats trimmed the lead to 10-8 before the Bulldogs went on a 11-0 run that started on back-to-back threes from Kelan Martin. After a layup from junior C Nate Fowler, redshirt sophomore F Sean McDermott drilled a three to cap the run and give Butler a 21-8 lead with 13:08 remaining in the first half. But the Wildcats responded with a 12-4 run that brought the Butler lead to 25-20 with 7:29 remaining in the first half. An And-1 three-point play on a layup from junior G Jalen Brunson cut the Butler lead to 27-23, but Kamar Baldwin responded with an And-1 three-point play on a jumper in the paint on the very next possession to extend the Butler lead 30-23 with 5:14 remaining before halftime. A three by Villanova redshirt sophomore G Donte DiVincenzo cut the lead back to four at 30-26 before Kelan Martin hit back-to-back threes again, his fourth and fifth of the game, to give Butler a 36-26 lead with 4:26 remaining in the first half. The Wildcats closed the first half on a 9-2 run that ended on a three from freshman G Collin Gillespie with 0:06 remaining. A full court heave at the buzzer from Kelan Martin missed to bring the halftime score to 38-35 in favor of the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs finished the first half shooting 55.6% (15-27) from the field, including 53.8% (7-13) from three. The Wildcats finished at 46.9% (15-32) from the field, including 33.3% (3-9) from three. Kelan Martin led all scorers with 17 points, including a 5-6 performance from three.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Butler Senior Forward Kelan Martin

Villanova opened the second half scoring on a layup by Brunson that brought the score to 38-37 with 19:42 remaining. The bucket sparked a 14-4 Villanova run that gave the Wildcats a 51-42 lead with 14:53 remaining. A jumper by Kamar Baldwin ended the run and brought the score to 51-44 in favor of Villanova with 14:08 remaining. The Wildcats built a nine point lead before a three from Kamar Baldwin helped Butler close the gap at 55-49 with 11:28 remaining. DiVincenzo responded to the Baldwin three with a three of his own, but Kelan Martin quickly answered with a sixth three to cut the lead to 58-52 with 10:09 remaining. Villanova scored on a jumper immediately before Martin drilled a seventh three to cut the lead to 60-55 with 9:08 remaining. The Wildcats would go on the build an eleven point lead, but the Bulldogs kept fighting. Redshirt junior G Paul Jorgensen splashed home a three and Sean McDermott scored on offensive rebound tip-in to cut the lead down to 66-60 with 6:27 remaining. Villanova scored on a pair of free throws in response before the Bulldogs received four points from Kamar Baldwin to bring the lead to 68-64 with 5:20 remaining. The Wildcats pushed the lead to 75-66 at the 3:38 mark before Kelan Martin splashed home his eighth three of the game to bring the lead to 75-69 with 3:05 remaining. A Villanova turnover led to a Kamar Baldwin layup the bring Butler back within four at 75-71 with 2:37 remaining. But a costly Butler turnover after a defensive stop helped Villanova build a 79-71 lead with 1:28 remaining. A pair of Martin free throws brought the Bulldogs within six at 79-73 with 1:20 remaining, but Butler was forced to send Villanova to the free throw line and Baldwin and Martin missed their three point attempts in the final possessions. Trips to the line for the Wildcats and a dunk by redshirt junior G/F Mikal Bridges sealed the deal for Villanova.

The Bulldogs finished the game shooting 43.5% (27-62) from the field, including 41.4% (12-29) from three. Villanova finished at 50.8% (30-59) from the field, including 33.3% (6-18) from three. Butler finished at 100% (9-9) from the free throw line compared to 87% (20-23) for Villanova.

The Wildcats committed only nine turnovers compared to 12 for Butler. The Wildcats also had a 36-29 advantage on the glass

Senior F Kelan Martin finished with tied for a game-high 30 points on a 10-20 (50%) shooting performance, including a career-best eight three-pointers on 12 attempts (66.6%). He has averaged 30.0 points per game in his last three games.

Sophomore G Kamar Baldwin scored 25 points. He and Martin were the only two in double figures. Butler made 12 three-pointers. Redshirt junior G Paul Jorgensen finished with a game-high seven assists.

Donte DiVincenzo tied for a game-high 30 points, a new career-high. Jalen Brunson added 27. Omari Spellman had a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bulldogs return to Indianapolis and Hinkle Fieldhouse for three consecutive home games, the final three home games of the 2017-18 season. The homestand begins Tuesday night when Georgetown comes to town for a 6:30 PM ET tip

Christopher Fultz is a Senior Writer for the Indiana Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler Athletics and has full media access. Follow @CafultzISR and the @IndySportsRep on Twitter.

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