INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs, the No. 4 Seed in the South Region, faced the No. 1 Seed North Carolina Tar Heels on Friday, March 24. Butler’s season ended in the 2017Sweet 16 as the Bulldogs fell, 92-80, in Memphis, Tenn. Butler, picked to finish sixth in the BIG EAST Conference in the preseason poll, finishes the 2016-17 campaign with a record of 25-9.
“This is a sudden end to one of the greatest teams I’ve ever been around,” said Butler Head Coach Chris Holtmann, who earned BIG EAST Coach of the Year honors after leading the Bulldogs to a second-place conference finish. “We didn’t have enough ‘stuff’ to us defensively tonight, but give North Carolina credit; they played well and they are one heck of a team.”
After North Carolina senior F Isaiah Hicks opened the game with a jumper in the paint, Butler redshirt senior G Kethan Savage responded with a three to give the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead with 18:35 remaining in the game. An And-1 three-point play by senior F Andrew Chrabascz and a three by freshman G Kamar Baldwin helped keep the score close at 13-12 in favor of North Carolina with 14:58 before the break. But 17-2 run early in the first half turned that 13-12 UNC lead into a 30-14 advantage at the 10:25 mark. A three by Chrabascz cut the lead to 40-32 with 4:26 remaining in the first half before a 12-0 run gave North Carolina a 52-32 advantage and ultimately a 52-36 lead at the half.
Butler shot 43.3 percent (13-30) from the field, including 30.8 percent (4-13) from three. North Carolina shot 52.9 percent (18-34) in the first half, including 47.1 percent (8-17) from three. The Tar Heels made six of their first seven three-pointers.
The North Carolina lead grew to 20 with the score at 63-43 on a fastbreak layup by junior G Joel Berry II with 14:37 remaining in the game. But the Bulldogs continued to fight as graduate transfer G Avery Woodson cut the lead to 15 at 69-54 with 9:53 remaining. Back-to-back three-pointers by junior F Kelan Martin pulled Butler within 11 at 71-60 with 7:44 to play. A steal by Kamar Baldwin let to a foul on a fastbreak layup. Baldwin hit both free throws to cut the lead to 10 at 76-66 with 5:59 remaining. Unfortunately for Butler, the Bulldogs would not be able to get the lead under 10 in the second half as UNC always seemed to have an answer to a Butler push.
Butler finished the game shooting 43.5 percent (27-62) from the field, including 28.6 percent (8-28) from three. North Carolina shot 54.4 percent (31-57) for the game, including 37.5 percent (9-24) from three. UNC had a 38-26 rebounding advantage. The Tar Heels scored 42 points in the paint, compared to 26 for Butler.
In his final game as a Bulldog, senior F Andrew Chrabascz had 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists for Butler. Junior F Kelan Martin added 16 – with 14 of those coming in the second half. Freshman G Kamar Baldwin scored 14. Chrabascz finishes his Butler career with 1,271 career points, 24th on Butler’s all-time scoring list.
This is the second consecutive season that Butler’s season ended at the hands of a No. 1 seed as Butler fell to Virginia in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs are now 2-5 all-time against No. 1 seeds.
This is Butler’s third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance under Holtmann. The Bulldogs have been part of nine of the last 11 tournaments.
This was the sixth Sweet 16 appearance in Butler’s storied history. North Carolina scored the first basket Friday for a 2-0 lead, the first time in the 2017 NCAA Tournament that Butler trailed.
North Carolina advances to the Elite Eight, facing either Kentucky or UCLA.
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.
Chris Fultz is a Senior Writer and the Butler Athletics beat writer for the Indiana Sports Report. Chris Fultz is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler University Athletics and has full media access.
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