The #9 Butler Bulldogs were riding high to Philadelphia to face LaSalle following their buzzer-beating win over then-#8 Gonzaga last Saturday night. On the same night that #1 Duke would be embarrassed by 27 points (90-63) at #25 Miami, #12 Minnesota would go down at Northwestern (55-48) and #17 Creighton would fall at Drake (74-69), Butler would follow suit and be ranked victim number four to fall on Wednesday night. This time, it would be Butler that would lose in the final seconds, 54-53.
Butler did everything in its power to avoid the typical hangover that happens following a huge win like they had over Gonzaga on Saturday. Teams tend to play more laid back the next outing. That really wasn't the case for Butler. They matched up well against LaSalle, but were just plain caught off guard during the Explorers' run in the final minutes.
Taking off from where they left on Saturday against Gonzaga, Roosevelt Jones and Kellen Dunham anchored the scoring in the first seven minutes. The two combined for 11 of the Bulldogs' first 12 points to take a 12-6 lead with 13:08 in the first half.
Tyreek Duren and Tyrone Garland got together for 13 of LaSalle's 23 first half points to trail just 28-23 at the intermission. The host Explorers outscored Butler 17-16 in the final 13 minutes before halftime.
LaSalle regained the lead for the first time since leading early (4-3) with a 41-40 edge on a Tyreek Duren bucket midway through the second. They sustained that lead until Andrew Smith gave Butler a slight 51-50 lead with 0:51 left.
The two squads traded leads a few more times before the scoreboard clock was all zeros. Sam Mills put the Explorers up 52-51 with 32 ticks left. Roosevelt Jones found Andrew Smith down on the right block and he laid the ball up to put Butler on top 53-52 with 0:08 left.
That was way too much time as Ramon Galloway made a layup of his own with just 2.4 seconds to go. Roosevelt Jones tried to repeat Saturday's Gonzaga script, but could only get as close as half court. His heave from midcourt went hard off the right side of the rim and off, giving LaSalle a 54-53 upset of #9 Butler.
The Explorers were led in scoring by Tyreek Duren with a game-high 16 points, five boards, six assists and a few steals to his credit. Sam Mills joined him in double-figures with 11 points, while also filling up his stat sheet with five boards, four assists and a couple steals. Steve Zack also pitched-in eight for LaSalle. The rims weren't the kindest to LaSalle, as they only shot 41% (23-56) and 4-for-15 from outside-the-arc.
Senior center Andrew Smith scored 11 of his game-high 16 points in the second half, along with grabbing eight rebounds and shooting 7-for-10 from the floor. Kellen Dunham stayed comfortable with his shooting stroke (6-of-11) with his 15 points, including 3-for-4 from the three-point arc. Jones dropped in another great night with 14 points (6-of-14), while also grabbing four boards and dishing out five assists. Point guard Alex Barlow didn't attempt any field goals in 34 minutes, but had five assists. Butler shot 49% (23-47) and outrebounded LaSalle 29-26, but the Explorers were smart with the ball throughout and only turned the ball over eight times to the Bulldogs' 13.
LaSalle (13-5, 3-2 A-10) shouldn't be underestimated and the nation is now fully aware. They'll get another crack at a ranked team on Saturday as they'll hit the road and see if they can take down #19 VCU (16-4, 4-1 A-10).
#9 Butler (16-3, 3-1 A-10) will come home to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday to host the Temple Owls (13-5, 2-2 A-10) at 6 p.m.