Men’s basketball: Rotnei Clarke’s buzzer-beater gives Butler victory over Marquette
The Associated Press November 19, 2012 11:20PM
Butler guard Rotnei Clarke (15) and his teammates celebrates Clarke's 3-point shot in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, in Lahaina, Hawaii. Clarke's last-second 3-pointer gave Butler a 72-71 win. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)
Updated: December 21, 2012 6:26AM
LAHAINA, Hawaii — Butler’s Rotnei Clarke reminded Marquette on Monday that it doesn’t matter how many shots you miss — just sink a buzzer-beater on national TV.
Clarke’s 22-foot runner jolted the Bulldogs to a 72-71 win over Marquette at the start of the Maui invitational in Hawaii, a tournament built on celebrating improbable upsets.
No, this wasn’t the 1982 Chaminade upset over Virginia, but Butler is hoping the intense game kick-starts an early season run.
“I’ve been in this long enough to know that there are very few thrills like a buzzer-beater, especially one off of one foot, running,” Butler coach Brad Stevens said. “I’ve also been around long enough to know it’s hard to be on the other side.”
Clarke hit the improbable basket after the Bulldogs (2-1) drove the length of the court down two points with less than 8 seconds left.
Clarke — who made just 4 of 14 3-point attempts for the game — made the shot from the right side and was mobbed on the gym floor by his teammates after it went through.
“It was a scramble play,” said Clarke, who said he thought about passing the ball to a cutting Roosevelt Jones.
“I ended up keeping it, got through and around a couple of guys and luckily it went in,” Clarke said.
Marquette coach Buzz Williams said the shot wasn’t defendable.
“He shot it off foot, from behind his head. As soon as the ball left his hand I knew it was a basket,” Williams said.
It was a fitting end to a game that was tight most of the way.
Marquette’s Andrew Thomas hit an acrobatic putback layup and made a free throw to put the Golden Eagles (2-1) up three with 30.9 seconds left. Clarke missed a 3-pointer for the tie, but Erik Fromm got an offensive rebound and made a layup with 9 seconds left. Clarke fouled Marquette’s Junior Cadougan on the next play, but Cadougan missed his second free throw to set up the winning shot.
Clarke had 20 points, including two 3-pointers to tie the game in the first half.
Khyle Marshall had 24 points and nine rebounds for Butler. Vander Blue scored 21 points for the Golden Eagles.
“People are going to overanalyze who won and who lost,” Stevens said. “Both teams played hard all the way to the wire. It’s tough to swallow (for Marquette).”
Marquette went on a quick 12-0 run after Marshall scored the opening basket for Butler. But the Bulldogs grinded their way back, making a few more baskets during a stretch in which both teams kept a frenetic pace, but neither shot particularly well.
Clarke hit a 3-pointer with just under 4 minutes left in the half to tie the game at 23, and Butler went into halftime with a 31-30 lead.
The teams then traded blows from the start in the second half. Cadougan hit a jumper 3 minutes in to give Marquette a one-point lead, Marshall responded with an alley-oop dunk from Jones, then Anderson shot back with a reverse layup to put the Golden Eagles back up again.
Marquette maintained a small lead through the bulk of the last 10 minutes. The game had three ties and four lead changes.
“I thought it was a great game,” Williams said. “We’re disappointed by the loss, but we were encouraged by how hard our guys played.”
Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia .