Not So Sweet Ending

Pitt didn't play pretty in the first half, but an 11-0 run in the second half brought the Panthers back, giving them a five-point lead. Both teams fought all the way to the wire, but it was Butler coming out on top with a 71-70 win.

Shelvin Mack set a Butler school-record for most points in an NCAA Tournament game with 30, and he needed every last point as Butler eliminated top-seeded Pitt out of the Southeast Region, 71-70. Mack's big game was heavily supported by a 7-of-12 performance from three-point range.

On the Pitt side, Gilbert Brown came up big for Pitt with 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Nasir Robinson finished with 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Ashton Gibbs, who led Pitt with 26 in Thursday night's win, had 11, but only two points in the second half.

It was Robinson who was the impetus for Pitt's 11-0 run that brought the Panthers back in the second half. A pair of free throws, and a layup off a feed from Travon Woodall broke a 48-48 tie, giving Pitt a 50-48 lead. Woodall came up with a three-pointer on the next possession, putting Pitt up 53-48 as Butler was forced to call a timeout.

Mack wasn't done, answering with three-pointers on consecutive possessions, tying the game for his team twice. His second three-pointer tied the game at 60-60 with five minutes left.

The game came down to the final minute. After a miss by Butler's Andrew Smith, Brown came down with the rebound. On the ensuing Pitt possession, Brad Wanamaker was fouled by Smith. Wanamaker's free throws put Pitt up 69-67.

Then, on Butler's next time down the court, it was Smith fouled by Brown, going for a loose ball. Smith converted 1-of-2 free throws, as Pitt still had a 69-68 lead. Both teams traded misses, as the Panthers still held a 69-68 lead with 42 seconds left. They took their time on the next possession, hoping for one final shot. With the shot clock winding down, Robinson had the ball inside with three seconds left. He passed back to Gibbs at the top of the key. The shot clock expired with nine seconds left, giving Butler the ball.

Butler called timeout one last time. It looked like Mack was going to hold for the last shot. He drove to the hole, then dished to Smith at the last second, who finished with the layup. Mack drove until he drew a double-team, then fed to Smith. Smith's layup put Butler up 70-69 with three seconds left.

Pitt got the inbounds pass up to Brown, who at halfcourt, was fouled by Mack with less than a second left. Brown went to the line for two shots. He converted the first one, tying the game at 70-70. He missed the second one, but that wasn't the worst thing. Robinson got tangled up with Howard in the lane, and was called for a foul. Howard went to the line, sinking the first free throw, which was good enough to give Butler the 71-70 lead.

Wanamaker had one last shot, putting the ball up for a full court shot when he immediately touched the ball. Fittingly—for a game that went down to the wire—his shot actually bounced off the rim.

Pitt finishes the season 28-6, and is eliminated in the second round of the NCAA Tournament for a second year in a row.


Panther More Top Stories