ODU loses buzzer-beating heartbreaker to Butler in NCAAs

Butler (24-9) advances to the NCAA Championship Third Round after defeating the Monarchs of Old Dominion (27-7) Thursday afternoon. The Bulldogs have won ten straight and ended ODU’s nine win game streak. ODU was led by senior center Frank Hassell who had 20 points and five rebounds.

The game featured 10 ties and 22 lead changes, the last lead change coming on Matt Howard’s game-winning layup at the buzzer.

Old Dominion entered the game leading the NCAA in rebound margin at +12.2. Butler held a 32-29 rebounding advantage, marking just the second time this season that Old Dominion was outrebounded (ODU vs. Drexel, 37-47). The 29 rebounds were Old Dominion’s fewest of the season.

Old Dominion led, 29-27, at halftime, marking the sixth time this season Butler trailed at halftime (2-4).

Old Dominion’s 16 field goals matched its second-fewest in a game this season. The Monarchs’ 21 made free throws were their third-most of the season.

Butler shot its first free throw of the game with 11:28 remaining in the second half. Garrett Butcher made two foul shots to put the Bulldogs ahead 45-42.

Howard was on the left side of the basket after Shawn Vanzant missed from the right side. Howard went up with his right hand and put the ball in an instant before time expired.

Old Dominion came in with the best rebounding margin in the country, and Butler’s effort to overcome that obstacle – and keep Hassell under control in the paint – became even tougher after the 6-foot-8 Howard picked up his third foul with 16:36 left. His teammate Andrew Smith, a 6-11 center, was called for his fourth foul 40 seconds later.

Howard remained in the game and Smith was replaced by Garrett Butcher, who scored six straight points in an 8-1 run that put Butler ahead 49-43.

Old Dominion answered with a 6-0 spurt that began with a 3-pointer by Darius James with 10:09 to go. The Monarchs’ next field goal came more than 7 1/2 minutes later, but the basket by Hassell sparked a six-point run that tied it with 31.2 seconds remaining.

Howard’s finisher came on Butler’s 32nd rebound. Old Dominion finished with 29, only the second time this season the Monarchs were outrebounded.

The game started with a frantic pace, as both teams ran up and down the floor until the initial foul finally stopped play at the 15:50 mark.

The lead also went back and forth until ODU reserve guard Trian Iliadis drilled a 3-pointer and Keyon Carter made a soft jumper to make it 18-13. Over the next eight minutes, however, the Monarchs went 1 for 6 with seven turnovers and fell behind 22-21. Hassell made Old Dominion’s final three field goals in a first half that featured 13 lead changes and ended with the Monarchs clinging to a 29-27 lead.

ODU’s seniors finished their careers with 97 victories, two NCAA post season appearances, two CAA titles, a CIT title and a victory in last year’s NCAA tournament.

Ben Finney completed his career as ODU’s all-time leader in games played with 139, followed by teammates Frank Hassell and Darius James with 138.

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