(Photo by Robert Kelly-TexSport Publications, Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.)
By Robert H Kelly Copyright 2011 TexSport Publications
HOUSTON, TEXAS (April 2, 2011) With a wham and a bam and not even so much as a “thank you m’am,” the Butler Bulldogs downed a stubborn, yet determined Virginia Commonwealth team 70-62 to return to the title game for the second year in a row at the 2011 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championships.
Playing before a capacity crowd at Houston’s Reliant Stadium, the Bulldogs proved their trip to the championship game in 2010 was not a fluke, where they eventually lost to the Duke Blue Devils 61-59.
In a game marred by poor shooting, the Bulldogs managed to outlast VCU.
Both teams shot less than 40% from the field. Butler was 21 of 59 (35.6%) from two-point range, while VCU chipped in a mere 23 of 58 attempts (39.7%).
Both teams were about equal from three-point range, with Butler hitting 8 of 23 (34.8%) and VCU making 8 of 22 (36.4%). Shevin Mack led all Butler with 24 points, with Matt Howard adding 17 and Shawn Vanzant chipping in 11.
VCU’s Jamie Skeen scored 27 points for the Rams with Bradford Burgess adding 15. In the end, rebounding was the key. Butler out-rebounded VCU 48 to 32 and VCU head coach Shaka Smith was quick to note that fact in the post-game press conference.
“That was a big part of it. I think you can’t get out-rebounded by 16 in a game and expect to win," he said.
Smith also was critical of some of the easy shots that the Rams missed, saying, “[To] be honest with you, we missed a lot of easy shots, too, that if those things go down, instead of being down four late, we might be up two or four.
So there are a few different factors that came into play, but again, Butler was better and they deserved to win."
Butler head coach Brad Stevens said, when questioned on pulling away at the end of the game, “That was two really good teams. VCU has a lot to be proud of. They inspired a lot of people, including us. They played terrific all the way through."
"We were fortunate to pull that one out," Stevens said. "We had guys make individual plays time and again that were crucial.”
Stevens and his Bulldogs will have to wait until later Saturday evening to find out who they will face in Monday night’s championship final.
Kentucky and Connecticut will face off in the nightcap at Reliant Stadium to determine the other finalist.