For the second straight game, the Marquette Golden Eagles won a game that came down to the final seconds. In defeating the Butler Bulldogs 74-72, the Golden Eagles had to endure an incredibly tense final minute. That final minute was made even more tense with a few Golden Eagles mistakes that gave the Bulldogs multiple opportunities in the closing moments to send the game into overtime.
The story of this game was the opposite methods each team used to score points. The Bulldogs lived and died with their three-point shooting while the Golden Eagles were more physical, scoring the bulk of their points with shots much closer to the basket.
The Bulldogs drained 11 three-pointers in the game with nearly 46 percent of their made shots coming from three. In comparison, the Golden Eagles made half as many three-pointers as the Bulldogs and relied on threes for less than a quarter of their made baskets.
A big reason that three-pointers became so crucial to the Bulldogs’ scoring is that their shooters were getting many wide-open looks from the three-point line throughout the game. In that situation, shots are going to be taken and many times will go in. They were for the Bulldogs, and it helped them build an eight-point halftime lead that the Golden Eagles spent the entire second half chipping away at.
The Golden Eagles relied on a more direct approach, scoring their points with short or mid-range shots, layups and fast break points.
The end result was a huge night from Vander Blue, who scored a game-high 29 points, but he wasn’t alone. Trent Lockett scored 13 points and the Golden Eagles got big help from their bench in the form of Jamil Wilson and Davante Gardner. Wilson scored 13 off the bench while Gardner scored eight. Both men came up big from the free-throw line in the final minute of the game, combining for five free-throws in the game’s final 48 seconds.
Free-throws ended up being another crucial element to the Golden Eagles’ victory which fits with well with so much of their scoring in the game coming inside the three-point line.
The Golden Eagles made more free-throws (23) than the Bulldogs attempted (19) while only missing four in the game. This is important to note because this game, like so many in college basketball, came down to free-throws in the final minute with the game on the line.
There is also a great irony in how this game ended. The Golden Eagles tied the game with 1:29 left on a three-pointer from Blue while the Bulldogs’ last two three-point attempts of the game were their worst attempts of the game.
The first attempt was an ill-advised attempt that was from a much longer distance than normally desired. The second attempt was basically a throw at the basket in the final seconds, but was from a distance where it was a legitimate three-point attempt, it just didn’t look like one.