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Butler Bulldogs Keep NCAA Tournament Hopes Alive with Win Over Seton Hall

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – After two straight road games, the Butler Bulldogs returned home to host the Seton Hall Pirates on Tuesday, March 2, at Hinkle Fieldhouse. With an uncertain NCAA Tournament future ahead, the Bulldogs, led by senior G Kellen Dunham and redshirt senior G/F Roosevelt Jones, were able to pick up a crucial 85-78 BIG EAST Conference win. Dunham led the Bulldogs with 22 and Jones added 20. With the win, Butler improves to 20-9 and 9-8 in BIG EAST play. Seton Hall, which entered the game having won eight of nine, is now 21-8 (11-6).

“Players win games,” said Butler Head Coach Chris Holtmann. “I wouldn’t want the ball in anyone’s hands other than these two guys (Dunham and Jones). Rose has won a lot of games at the free throw line for us this year. He has big time heart. They both do. Our seniors carried us in the is one.”

Butler won the tip and opened the game on a reverse layup by sophomore F Tyler Wideman. An and-1 basket and free throw from Seton Hall sophomore G/F Ismael Sanogo gave the Pirates a brief lead before a three-pointer from Kellen Dunham put Butler back up 5-3.  From there on, the Bulldogs caught fire and went on to take an 11 point lead following another deep ball from Dunham. Graduate transfer F Austin Etherington responded with a three of his own in the next possession, which forced a Pirates timeout with 10:58 remaining. The six straight points were part of a 10-0 Butler run that lasted 3:49.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Austin Etherington and Roosevelt Jones (Zach Bolinger)
Photo: Butler Athletics/Austin Etherington and Roosevelt Jones (Zach Bolinger)

The hot shooting from deep continued for the Bulldogs as sophomore G Kelan Martin connected on a three to give Butler its largest lead of the half at 15 points, 28-13, with 6:59 remaining. After a three-pointer from Seton Hall sophomore G Isaiah Whitehead, Kellen Dunham responded with his third make from deep to put Butler back up by 15, 33-18 with 4:27 before the break. Dunham hit his fourth from deep to with 1:25 remaining before graduate transfer G Jordan Gathers, who entered the game eight seconds earlier, drilled an open three from the wing to give Butler a 17 point first half lead with 0:53 second remaining. Following a Seton Hall bucket, the Bulldogs took a 43-28 lead into halftime.

Butler finished the half shooting 13-of-27 (48.1%) from the field and 7-of-12 (58.3%) from three. Seton Hall finished the first half on an 11-of-33 (33.3%) performance from the field, including 1-of-8 (12.5%) from three. Each team shot 83.3% from the free throw line, but Butler led in attempts, 10-of-12 to 5-of-6 for the Pirates. Kellen Dunham had a game high 16 first half points, including a 4-of-7 display from behind the arc. Kelan Martin finished the first half with 11. Seton Hall sophomore F Desi Rodriguez led the Pirates with 6.

In the second half, the Bulldogs struggled as a once promising lead quickly evaporated. A bucket from Seton Hall sophomore F Angel Delgado with 16:23 remaining led to a 12-0 Pirates run over 3:07 and cut the score to 45-40. An and-1 three-point play from Whitehead cut the Butler lead to four, but an and-1 three-point play by junior F Andrew Chrabascz immediately following and another three from Etherington extended the lead to eight, 57-49, with 9:12 remaining.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the hot hand switched sides as the Pirates were relentless from behind the arc. Following a three from Seton Hall sophomore G Khadeen Carrington in the last possession, Whitehead connected from deep to bring the Butler lead down to four, 63-59, with 6:32 remaining. Whitehead quickly took over for the Pirates as he hit again from deep, this time cutting the lead to two with 3:17 remaining in the game. With the score at 71-69, Kellen Dunham hit a reverse layup for the four point lead with 2:47. A fifth foul on Butler sophomore F Tyler Wideman sent Whitehead to the line for a 1-&-1 with 1:42 remaining. Whitehead’s two made free throws brought the game back to two before Roosevelt Jones connected on two of his own for the Bulldogs with 1:36. Whitehead again brought the lead back down to two on a jumper before another Roosevelt Jones response, this time on a layup with 1:02 remaining.

With the score at 79-75, Whitehead missed a crucial two-point attempt, but he wasn’t done with the dramatics. After two more free throws by Jones, Whitehead hit a three with 26 seconds left to bring the Butler lead to 81-78. Two free throws by Dunham and a missed three by Whitehead with 0:12 remaining sealed the deal as the Bulldogs managed to hold on for the crucial win.

Butler finished 26-of-51 (51%), 8-of-18 (44.4%) from three and 25-of-32 (78.1%) from the free throw line. Kelan Martin added 13 points and a game high nine rebounds. Andrew Chrabascz had all nine of his points in the second half. Austin Etherington added eight points off the bench, including a 2-of-2 performance from three. Tyler Wideman had six points, six rebounds and a game high four blocks. Khadeen Carrington had 18 to join Whitehead’s stellar game high 27 performance.

Seton Hall out-rebounded Butler by a slim 33-30 margin. The Bulldogs scored nine points off of nine turnovers and gave up 10 and 10 respectively.

Butler secures its 21st 20-win season, including its ninth in the last 10 seasons. Butler scored at least 80 points for the 14th time this season and for the sixth time in its last eight games. The Bulldogs have won all six of those contests.

Butler returns to action Saturday with a 2:30 p.m. tip at Hinkle Fieldhouse against Marquette. It will be Senior Day for Jones, Dunham, Etherington and Gathers. They will be recognized in a postgame ceremony. The game is sold out and will air on FOX Sports Network affiliates throughout the country, including FOX Sports Midwest/Indiana.

Chris 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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