By Sam Weiderhaft
Another Big East game, another heartbreaker for Butler. This time, the victor was the Providence Friars, edging out the Bulldogs in overtime 73-67, the second overtime loss during conference play.
Butler started off slow, at one point down 14 points in the first half. Kamar Baldwin closed the gap to 5 at the end of the half with a jumper as time expired, making it a 32-27 game.
The Bulldogs took their first lead halfway through the second half, courtesy of a free throw from Joey Brunk. With the game tied at 49 with six minutes remaining, the Friars went on a 9-2 run, milking the clock down to 1:50, and most of the Hinkle faithful heading for the exits.
What happened next was the last bit of Hinkle magic this team could use this season. An 8-0 run, capped off with Nate Fowler’s second three-pointer of the game made it a 60-59 game in favor of the Friars with 22 seconds left. Providence’s Isaiah Jackson would then be fouled, and make both free throws. Heading down the other way, Baldwin hit a clutch three to tie the game at 62 with 10 seconds left, and the Friar’s buzzer beater attempt would fall short.
The only overtime lead the Bulldogs would see was a 66-65 advantage after another Baldwin layup. An 8-1 run for Providence would seal the deal on the game, and possibly Butler’s hopes for the tournament.
Nate Watson would lead the scoring effort for the Friars, with 21 points, going 8 of 10 from the field. Alpha Diallo and Isaiah Jackson would also add 14 of their own.
Baldwin was yet again the leading scorer for the Bulldogs, with 27, going 8 of 20 from the field and 3 steals. Jordan Tucker would add 15 and Nate Fowler would put up 10. As a team, Butler shot 31.7% from the field through the game.
Butler takes on Villanova in Philadelphia on Saturday, which has shaped up to be a must-win game for any hopes of appearing in the NCAA tournament for a fifth straight season.