The Butler men’s basketball team opened Horizon League play against Valparaiso at Hinkle Fieldhouse this past Saturday, falling 77-71 in overtime.
Senior guard Ronald Nored, normally a vocal leader and defensive standout, took the role of main offensive option against the Crusaders.
Nored led the Bulldogs (4-4, 0-1) with 17 points in 40 minutes of play. He also posted six rebounds and six assists.
“The bottom line is he tries to do whatever it takes to be successful,” coach Brad Stevens said. “He’s the best of the best, and we’re lucky that he’s here.”
Junior forward and community college transfer Richie Edwards led the Crusaders (6-2, 1-0) with 18 points and three rebounds off the bench.
The Bulldogs were able to pull down 22 offensive rebounds, but many of them were a result of their poor shooting under the basket.
“The difference in the game is they finished, and we didn’t,” Stevens said.
Butler went to the half down 39-32 despite Nored and sophomore guard Chrishawn Hopkins each scoring seven points.
Hopkins would go on to score just one more point after suffering an apparent ankle injury.
“He was OK to play, but he didn’t look very good moving,” Stevens said.
Junior center Andrew Smith started the game but only contributed three points and three rebounds while battling foul trouble.
He picked up his fifth foul at the 3:15 mark in the second half and watched the rest of the game from the bench.
Freshman center Kameron Woods recorded his second double-double of the season in Smith’s absence, tallying 10 points and collecting 11 rebounds in 32 minutes of play.
On the opposite bench, junior forward Ryan Broekhoff also recorded a double-double, contributing 13 points and 12 rebounds for Valparaiso.
“I really commend the guys,” Broekhoff said. “We really just worked hard and battled.”
Butler found itself facing a five-point deficit with five minutes remaining in the second half.
The Bulldogs fought back, tying the game at 64 when Nored hit a free throw with 20 seconds remaining.
Nored had a chance to secure the victory for the Bulldogs, but Crusaders junior guard Erik Buggs knocked the ball away, sending the game to overtime.
“Buggs did a good job. He got his hand in there and stripped it away,” Nored said. “He just made a good defensive play.”
Valparaiso controlled play in the extra period and eventually came out victorious.
Earlier in the week, the Bulldogs hosted Oakland City, taking care of the Mighty Oaks (4-3) 98-53.
The point total was the highest in nearly a decade for Butler, with six players scoring at least 10 points.
Freshman Andrew Smeathers electrified the Hinkle Fieldhouse crowd while scoring all 17 of his points in the final 10 minutes.
He seemingly could not miss, shooting 71 percent from behind the arc.
“He had a good competitive level,” Stevens said. “I thought he was really aggressive and did a lot of really good things. And obviously he can really shoot.”
Freshman guard Maurice Fuller led the Mighty Oaks with 20 points in 40 minutes of play.
The schedule gets no easier for the Bulldogs, as they host the nationally-ranked Xavier Musketeers tonight at 9 p.m.
“I think our schedule over the next five games is one of the toughest in the nation,” Stevens said.
The Musketeers (6-0) are currently eighth in the nation and are coming off a 66-63 victory over Purdue.
That game saw Xavier overcome a 19-point deficit to beat the Boilermakers.
Tonight’s game will be televised nationally on ESPN.