Junior guard Vander Blue played the best game of his college career against Butler in the Maui Invitational, but it wasn’t enough. One costly missed free throw and one incredible buzzer-beating shot sent the Bulldogs to a 72-71 win over Marquette.
It looked like the Golden Eagles would be moving on to play North Carolina after Jake Thomas put back an offensive rebound with 30.9 seconds left in the game to give Marquette a three-point lead. Butler’s Erik Fromm laid in a missed three-point attempt, cutting the deficit to 70-69, and guard Rotnei Clarke sent senior guard Junior Cadougan to the line with about eight seconds left.
Cadougan made one free throw, but his second one rimmed out, and Clarke took the ball up court with time ticking away.
With sophomore guard Derrick Wilson draped all over him, the Butler senior fired an off-balanced rainbow from another area code that somehow found its way through the net.
Blue’s big game had put the Golden Eagles in position to win. After coming into the game with no 3-pointers, Blue knocked down three, one giving Marquette a 67-62 lead with 2:01 left. Blue finished with 21 points to lead the team.
Up until the missed free throw, Cadougan had put together a solid performance as well with 14 points and three assists. Junior forward Davante Gardner cashed in 12 big points off the bench, though foul trouble limited him to just 16 minutes of play.
It looked like Marquette would run away with the contest after starting the game on a 14-4 run, but a Clarke 3-pointer tied the game at 23 with 3:58 left in the first half.
The score would be tied five more times, and the lead would change seven more times from there on in a furious back-and-forth battle. Both teams shot above 55 percent from the field in the second half.
Three starters scored 56 of Butler’s 72 points, while Marquette’s bench scored 28 points.
In the end, turnovers were killer for Marquette. While the Bulldogs gave the ball away just seven times for the game, the Golden Eagles coughed it up 14 times, leading to 14 Butler points.
For the Golden Eagles to lose in such dramatic fashion felt like a crime. And in this case the Butler did it.