Butler Falls In Overtime At Evansville

EVANSVILLE, IND. -- Junior Colt Ryan tied the game with a free throw in regulation and then scored his team's final six points in overtime to lift host Evansville to an 80-77 overtime victory over Butler in the season-opener for both teams at the new Ford Center on Saturday, Nov. 12.

Between Ryan's clutch points, the game took a bizarre twist.

Butler led 69-68 with Evansville in possession and 0:15 remaining.  The Aces' Ned Cox missed a jump shot with 0:07 remaining and there was a loose ball scramble for the rebound.  Butler's Jackson Aldridge was whistled for a foul with 0:00.9 left, sending Ryan to the line.  The Evansville scoring leader missed the first free throw, but made the second to tie the game.

Butler's Emerson Kampen then threw a full-court pass to center Andrew Smith, who caught the ball and laid it in at the buzzer for an apparent game-winning shot.  The game officials huddled, and claimed a foul was called before the shot, sending Smith to the free throw line with 0:00.2 left.  Smith missed both shots, forcing the overtime period.

"(The officials) said he didn't get the shot off," explained Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the game.  "They said he didn't get the shot off but he got fouled on the catch, or on the turn or whatever.  That was the explanation we were given."

Ryan broke a 74-74 tie with 1:58 left in overtime with a pair of free throws.  He then followed a free throw by Smith with a lay-up to make it 78-75.  Butler's Khyle Marshall cut the margin to one with a dunk, but Ryan closed out the scoring with a pair of free throws with 0:09 remaining.

The Aces, playing in front of a sellout crowd of 9,454 in the first basketball game at the new, downtown Ford Center, wound up shooting 43 free throws in the contest.  Evansville made more charity tosses (32) than Butler attempted (24).

Butler started strongly, behind sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins (right) and Smith.  The two helped the Bulldogs build a 37-28 lead in the first 20 minutes.  Hopkins, making his first collegiate start, had 11 points in the first period, while Smith added 10.

The Bulldogs stretched that margin to as many as 13 points in the second half, before Evansville used a 15-2 run to tie the game at 54-54.  Butler had a four-point lead twice in the final eight minutes, but each time Evansville battled back to set up the final series of events.

Hopkins wound up leading the Bulldogs with a career-high 22 points, while Smith finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots, despite being plagued by foul problems throughout the second half.  Butler had two players foul out and three others finish with four fouls.

Ryan led all scorers with 23 points.

The Bulldogs will have to bounce back quickly.  Next up is a home game against Chattanooga on Tuesday, Nov. 15, followed by a second home game against top ten-ranked Louisville on Saturday, Nov. 19.