The Butler men’s basketball team lost to the Pittsburgh Panthers 68-62 in overtime Wednesday night in a rematch of last season’s NCAA Tournament game.
The game was part of the semifinal round of the College Basketball Invitational.
Sophomore forward Khyle Marshall scored a career-high 22 points to lead all Butler scorers. He also collected eight rebounds, a team-high for the Bulldogs (22-15).
The game was back and forth with neither team leading by more than six points.
Butler came out hot in the first half and jumped out to an 18-12 lead.
Freshman walk-on guard Alex Barlow keyed the run with several assists, including an alley-oop pass to Marshall that brought the crowd of 3,754 people to its feet.
Barlow finished tied with senior guard Ronald Nored for the team lead in assists with four.
“[Barlow] works on his game as hard as anybody we’ve got,” coach Brad Stevens said. “He’s here for the right reasons.”
Junior center Andrew Smith continued his run of solid outings late into the season. He contributed 19 points and six rebounds.
“This tournament has been really good,” Stevens said. “The practices between games were terrific, and we had some guys that really grew. Khyle and Andrew have had moments in this tournament where they’ve been great.”
The Bulldogs went to the locker room down 26-24 at halftime but came out firing in all cylinders.
The team repeatedly worked the ball to Smith and Marshall in the paint and the Panthers could not find an answer.
On the other end of the court, the Pittsburgh offense was just as potent. The rest of the Panthers (20-17) had no trouble scoring, despite 2012 Big East Preseason Player of Year senior Ashton Gibbs being held scoreless.
Redshirt sophomore forward Talib Zanna came off the bench to lead Pittsburgh with 15 points. Redshirt junior guard Tray Woodall, Gibbs’ mate in the backcourt, scored 12 points, all of which came in the second half.
“We had our chances,” Stevens said. “There were a lot of things we could have done to control that game. The difference between winning and losing is not that much.”
Freshman forward Roosevelt Jones headed to the free throw line with four seconds remaining in regulation for the Bulldogs. With the score tied at 52, Jones missed both free throws.
Pittsburgh was able to salt the game away from the free throw line in overtime. The Panthers shot 80 percent from the charity stripe while Butler shot a mere 57 percent.
The loss Wednesday marked the final home game for the team’s two seniors, Nored and forward Garrett Butcher.
Butcher’s only minute against Pittsburgh came in overtime when the game was all but out of reach.
“I can’t put it into words,” Butcher said. “Everything I’ve felt about this place for the last four years is going to make it a great memory for a lifetime.”
Nored played 35 minutes and contributed four points and two steals. He has expressed interest in coaching sometime down the road.
“I think my playing days are over,” Nored said.
“They’ve given so much,” Stevens said. “No two seniors we’ve ever had could have done a better job with this team.”