Sophomore Zach Hahn nailed a three-point field goal at the buzzer to lift visiting Butler to a 50-48 upset of Horizon League power Cleveland State at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Ohio, on Thursday (Dec. 4). The victory was Butler's sixth straight to open the 2008-09 campaign and first in league play.
Hahn attempted just four shots in the game, but came through with the biggest field goal of his young career. With Butler trailing by a point and just five seconds remaining, he took a pass from teammate Gordon Hayward on the left side of the court, gave a shot fake and then launched a shot over defender J'Nathan Bullock. The ball curled into the net as the final buzzer sounded, giving Butler the two-point victory.
"I saw the shot clock when I caught the pass, so I knew I had time to get the shot off," said Hahn, who was inserted into the game for the final play. "It gave me confidence that coach called on me in that situation."
The shot, which was later selected as the No. 1 Play of the Day by ESPN SportsCenter, capped a roller-coaster final minute. The Bulldogs rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final six minutes of the contest and finally took their first lead of the second half on a clutch three-point field goal by sophomore Shawn Vanzant with 19 ticks left on the clock.
But Cleveland State (5-3, 1-1), the preseason favorite in the Horizon League, came right back and re-took the lead on a tough lay-up by Bullock with 0.05.4 left. Butler head coach called an immediate timeout, inserted Hahn in the game, and set up the game-winning play.
The game developed as expected between the top two defensive squads in the league. Butler shot just 31% in the first half, while falling behind by seven points, 27-20. The Bulldogs wound up shooting just 32% for the game.
The Vikings, who handed Butler its last Horizon League setback, 56-52, last January, shot just 14% in the second half and just 26% for the game. Butler had 14 turnovers in the game; Cleveland State had nine.
Cleveland State appeared to be in control when Chris Moore hit a lay-up at 6:01 to give the host squad a 41-33 lead. But the Bulldogs battled back, getting five consecutive points at one stretch from freshman Gordon Hayward, and eventually tied the game at 44-44 on a lay-up by sophomore Matt Howard.
Single free throws by Cleveland States' George Tandy and Cedric Jackson set up the dramatic final minute.
Junior Willie Veasley led the Bulldogs with nine points, while Hayward added eight points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Butler out-rebounded the aggressive Vikings, 46-44, in the game. Jackson topped Cleveland State with 11 points, while Tandy added 10.
Butler will continue its current road trip with a league test at Youngstown State on Saturday, Dec. 6. That contest is slated for 7 p.m. (ET).