Butler does it to No. 1 Syracuse
BUTLER 63, SYRACUSE 59
Willie Veasley glanced up while running back on defence as his 3-pointer bounced high off the rim like so many of Butler's shots had before.
He paused, though, as the ball drifted back, caromed off the backboard and fell through the net — a huge bounce that helped seal the Bulldogs’ 63-59 upset of topseeded Syracuse on Thursday night in the West Regional semifinals in Salt Lake City.
Veasley followed his fortunate 3 with a tip-in as the Bulldogs scored 11 straight points and became the latest mid-major team to knock off a top seed in the NCAA tournament.
Now, after reaching the regional finals for the first time in school history, Butler is one win from going home to Indianapolis for the Final Four.
“ I was headed down the court on defence because I figured it was going to go over the top of the backboard. But I looked back and it came down and went through,” Veasley said. “That was a HO-R-S-E shot. I’ve never made a shot quite like that.”
Veasley pumped his f ist and grinned as he continued toward the other end. It was fitting that he was already headed back on defence. Instead of Syracuse’s vaunted zone controlling the game, Butler’s pesky man-to-man defence was the difference as the Bulldogs scrapped through poor shooting and won their 23rd straight game.
“We said this word over and over in Indianapolis, and that word is ‘resolve.’ These guys have resolve,” Butler coach Brad Stevens said. “It’s hard to measure, but they’ve got it.”
The Bulldogs (31-4) certainly did in the last five minutes, holding the Orange without a point from the time Syracuse went up by four with 5:23 left until a too-little-too-late layup with 35 seconds remaining.
Gordon Hayward scored 17 points and started the celebration while dribbling out the clock after the Bulldogs forced Syracuse into its 18th turnover.
The Orange ( 30-5) made only three more f ield goals than turnovers in another loss in the round of 16. Syracuse hasn't played in the regional finals since winning the 2003 national title.
“ The game was a story of turnovers. They didn’t make turnovers,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “ They were really good with the basketball. We just had 18 turnovers and you can’t give away that many possessions.” WEST VIRGINIA 69, WASHINGTON 56
Kevin Jones scored 18 points in leading secondseeded West Virginia to a 6956 win over Washington in the East Regional semifinals at Syracuse.
Da’Sean Butler shook off a sore right hand that he hurt in the second half to score 14 points for the Mountaineers (30-6), who won their ninth straight game and set a school record for victories.
Justin Holiday scored 14 points and added eight rebounds for the 11th-seeded Huskies (26-10). Washington was undone by foul trouble after leading scorer Quincy Pondexter picked up his third foul in the first half, and guard Isaiah Thomas fouled out with 2:41 left.