Butler stuns Gonzaga with buzzer-beater
INDIANAPOLIS — Roosevelt Jones stole an inbound pass with 3.5 seconds left and hit a floater from just inside the foul line right before the buzzer to help No. 13 Butler upset No. 8 Gonzaga 64-63 on Saturday night.
Jones finished with 20 points and the Bulldogs have now won 13 in a row including two straight without their top scorer, Rotnei Clarke. It’s the first time Butler (16-2, 3-0 Atlantic 10) has ever beaten three top 10 teams in one season. They also defeated No. 9 North Carolina in November and No. 1 Indiana in December.
Gonzaga (17-2, 4-0 West Coast Conference) was led by Saw Dower and Elias Harris who each had 20 points. The loss ended the Zags eight-game winning streak.
After starting the second half in a 33-32 deficit, Butler scored the first five points of the second half and never trailed again. But the Bulldogs also never trailed until Elias Harris’ layup made it 59-58 with 1:24 left in the game.
Jones answered 18 seconds later with his own layup to give the Bulldogs the lead, and the team traded the lead on the next four possessions until Butler’s Alex Barlow was called for a travel with 3.5 seconds left. But on the inbound play, the Zags overthrew 7-foot center Kelly Olynyk and Jones looped around, caught the ball and drove from midcourt for the winning shot setting off a wild celebration.
It was a game that came with all the trimmings, and it lived up to every bit of the hype.
In the morning, Butler’s most famous player, Bobby Plump, took two shots from the same spot in the same gym where he made the winning shot for the 1954 Milan team that became the basis for the movie “Hoosiers.” He missed both.
Some fans rekindled memories of past eras with jerseys bearing the names of former Butler players such as Matt Howard and Duane Lightfoot. Every seat was filled 10 minutes before tip-off, and the students who were standing in line more than 2 1/2 before the game’s scheduled starting time literally ran into Hinkle to get a precious seat behind one of the baskets to see the first game at Hinkle between two Top 15 teams.
And afterward, those fans rushed the floor.