VCU runs ends with loss to Butler

A pair of threes by Shelvin Mack broke open a close game midway through the second half, and Butler held on down the stretch to defeat Virginia Commonwealth 70-62 in the Final Four on Saturday in Houston.

Mack’s first three gave Butler a 47-43 lead with 11:16 to go. He made another 1:19 later to make it 50-45 Butler, then capped a personal eight-point flurry with a layup that put the Bulldogs up seven at 52-45 with 9:38 left.

The Rams (28-12), who had surged back from a 34-28 halftime deficit to lead 41-39 on a Jamie Skeen three-point play at the 13:41 mark, had their chances down the stretch. A Skeen three-pointer brought VCU back to within 61-57 with 2:33 to go, but Skeen, who was also fouled on the play, missed a free throw that would have cut the deficit to three.

Skeen missed a layup with 1:37 to go, and Matt Howard made a layup off an offensive rebound that extended the Butler lead to 63-57 with 57 seconds to go.

Butler (28-9) went 7-of-8 from the free-throw line in the final minute to earn its second straight appearance in the national-championship game.

The Bulldogs fell in the 2010 title game to Duke by a 61-59 final margin.

The VCU loss ends a magical run by the CAA school – the second Final Four appearance by the mid-major conference.

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Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.


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