INDIANAPOLIS (AP)When No. 13 Butler needed scoring punch Friday night, Kamar Baldwin came up with a flurry.
He delivered the knockout punch, too.
The senior guard scored the Bulldogs’ final nine points of regulation, erasing a six-point deficit in the final 2 1/2 minutes, then added 10 more in overtime as Butler rallied for a remarkable 89-85 victory over Marquette.
”We just hang together like we’re going to get the job done, just encourage one another to fight through it,” Baldwin said.
Things easily could have gone the other way for the Bulldogs (16-4, 4-3 Big East). They had two injured teammates out and were staring at the possibility of a fourth consecutive loss with Markus Howard, the nation’s leading scorer, lined up against Baldwin.
Instead, Baldwin put his head down and made play after play, finishing with 31 points and eight rebounds – both matching season highs – as well as five assists.
And that wasn’t even the most impressive part.
”Markus Howard is really good, other guys in this league are really good and he’s as good as any of them,” Butler coach LaVall Jordan said. ”He made some big shots, but I thought defensively was as big as anything.”
Howard scored 18 points in the first half when Marquette took a 39-35 lead.
But with Baldwin and Henry Baddley taking turns defending Howard in the second half, Howard only had eight points in the final 25 minutes, finishing with 26 points.
”They made incredible winning plays,” coach Steve Wojciechowski said after Marquette’s three-game winning streak ended. ”They have a really connected group and a really good player in Kamar Baldwin, who, at the end of the game, we didn’t have answers for.”
Marquette seemed to be in control when it opened up a 51-42 lead with 13:41 left in regulation and still appeared to be in good shape when it led 68-62 with 2:36 to go.
But Baldwin scored the next nine to give Butler a 71-68 lead. Koby McEwen’s 3-pointer tied it with 2.9 seconds left. After Baldwin’s errant 3 at the buzzer, he didn’t miss many more.
Baldwin scored nine of Butler’s first 11 points in overtime and eventually closed it out at the free throw line.
Marquette: There’s no doubt the Golden Eagles can score. And Howard makes them one of the nation’s most dangerous teams. But when Marquette’s supporting cast contributes, as it did Friday, everyone is better. They just couldn’t close this one out.
Butler: The Bulldogs haven’t played particularly well defensively over the past four games. But when they had to buckle down and play in the second half, they were ferocious. And that was the difference between winning and losing with their top defender, Aaron Thompson, out with a left wrist injury.
Marquette: Sacar Anim had a season-high 22 points, Brendan Bailey had 14 points, and McEwen finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds. … Howard, Anim and Bailey each made four 3s. … Theo John finished with seven blocks, one short of his career high. … Howard needs eight points to become the 72nd player in Division I history to top the 2,500-point mark, joining his brother, Jordan in the exclusive club.
Butler: Aaron Thompson’s streak of 84 consecutive starts ended after he injured his left wrist in Tuesday’s loss at Villanova. … Jordan Tucker started in place of Thompson and had seven points and five rebounds. … Sean McDermott had 16 points and nine rebound, while Baddley scored a career-high 10 points. … The Bulldogs also played without backup forward Christian David, who suffered a season-ending torn ACL in his left knee Tuesday
After all the twists and turns of Friday’s game, Wojciechowski blamed himself for the loss.
The reason: With the score tied at 68, Baldwin grabbed a defensive rebound with 26 seconds left, dribbled up the court and was fouled six seconds later. Baldwin made the first to give Butler the lead before missing the second.
But Wojciechowski thought the Golden Eagles trailed by two.
”The last time I looked at the scoreboard, it was a two-point game so I screwed up,” he said. ”I made a mistake. There was some confusion on the bench and I have to be better than confusion and I wasn’t and that’s fully on me.”
Marquette: makes the second stop on its road trip at Xavier on Wednesday.
Butler: visits Georgetown on Tuesday.
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