BY MATTHEW VANTRYON | ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
For much of the game, it looked like the Butler men’s basketball team may have been able to salvage a gem out of what has deteriorated into a lost season.
It was not to be, as All-American senior forward Doug McDermott and No. 18 Creighton downed the Bulldogs 68-63.
McDermott netted a game-high 26 for the Bluejays (20-4, 10-2). The potential Division I player of the year is averaging 25 points per game this season.
Sophomore guard Kellen Dunham contributed 16 for Butler (12-13, 2-11) while junior guard Alex Barlow scored 13.
But it was not enough to propel the Bulldogs to victory.
Butler fell behind by 10 early, but a furious comeback aided by a barrage of 3-pointers quickly trimmed the deficit. Butler went into the half trailing by only three.
Dunham scored 10 in the half while the team shot 50 percent from behind the arc.
The second half was tightly contested, as the game went down to the wire. Butler led by two with a little more than 18 minutes to play in the game.
Neither team could gain an edge in the second half. The largest lead by either team from the 11:14 mark to less than a minute remaining was two points.
Senior forward Khyle Marshall missed some tough looks early but hit a jumper with about a minute to play that gave Butler a 63-61 lead.
McDermott then nailed a contested 3-pointer to give Creighton the lead.
Butler faltered on the offensive end, as freshman forward Andrew Chrabascz missed a contested layup, and Creighton grabbed the rebound.
Butler was forced to foul, and Creighton nailed both shots from the free throw line.
Dunham missed a 3-point attempt from the top of the key on the game’s last true possession, and Butler saw another opportunity slip through its fingers.
Despite the loss, Dunham said the team isn’t hanging its head.
“We know how good we can be,” Dunham said. “It’s a matter of bringing it onto the floor. (The close game) is good for morale.”
Creighton shot 50 percent from the floor in the contest. Butler shot 39 percent.
Butler tallied 14 offensive boards, leading to 15 second-chance points for the Bulldogs.
Freshman guard Rene Castro did not dress for the second straight game, and coach Brandon Miller said it is a “disciplinary team issue.” No decision has been made about Castro’s status for Tuesday’s game at St. John’s.