Butler’s season ends in heartbreak: Beyond the Box Score

Senior Jahmyl Telfort had 25 points in the loss against Minnesota on March 20. Photo by Elle Rotter


The men’s basketball team ended their season in brutal fashion on Tuesday night, falling to Minnesota 73-72 in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). The Bulldogs had a lead late in the game, but a critical DJ Davis turnover allowed the Golden Gophers to take the lead on two free throws. From there, the Dawgs needed some Hinkle Magic, but the cathedral was fresh out of pixie dust. 

Jahmyl Telfort led the scoring charge with 25 points, tying Minnesota’s Dawson Garcia. Both Posh Alexander and Davis had 13 points each in the losing effort. 

Minnesota will move on to face the winner of tomorrow’s Indiana State vs. SMU game. 

Butler’s once-promising season ended with a 3-7 record in their last 10 games. In a gutting loss, let’s go beyond the box score. 

Same old situation 

It’s almost fitting, in a sick way, that Butler’s season ended the way that it did. The game against Minnesota was a microcosm of the entire season in many ways, culminating in the Dawgs’ eventual exit from the NIT. 

The Bulldogs committed 14 turnovers on the night, some at crucial points in the game. Davis’ turnover with under a minute to go will be the one that sticks out though. All Butler had to do was hold onto the ball, but a lapse of judgment and a poor choice led to Minnesota’s go-ahead free throws. 

“Their coach was screaming ‘foul,’” Thad Matta said. “I was like ‘keep it DJ, keep it DJ.’” 

Matta said that he talked with Davis about that last minute turnover, and assured him that was not the only play that lost Butler the game. 

The Dawgs also struggled to consistently score the basketball. Their track record as a streaky team showed up again, culminating in multiple droughts that lasted for numerous minutes. Those droughts allowed Minnesota to extend their lead, or at times get back in the game. In the end, it was a major factor in the difference of this game. 

It will go down as a step in the right direction for the Bulldogs in the end, but this loss will leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouths heading into next season. 

2023-24 season in review 

For a team that was only projected to finish above DePaul in the Big East, Butler wildly exceeded expectations. 

The Bulldogs started the season strong, beating teams such as Texas Tech, Boise State and Marquette. In mid-January there were talks about the Dawgs being an NCAA Tournament-caliber team. Those predictions quickly faded when the Bulldogs ended the regular season on a 3-6 stretch. 

Despite the shortcomings at the end of the season, Matta still considered this season to be a success. 

“There’s a lot of factors going into college basketball these days,” Matta said. “We’ve got to keep growing.” 

Growing is exactly what this team has the potential to do. If all goes according to Matta’s plan, he will have four starters returning next season with the exception of graduate Jalen Thomas. With transfer portal season looming and recruits coming in, this team can only add pieces. 

All in all, this season will be considered a ‘close, but no cigar’ type of year. They exceeded expectations, got the program on the right track and built a foundation for next season. For Matta though, it is something more. 

“I told these guys, they gave me life,” Matta said. “I’m real proud of this team.”


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