DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Ronald Nored's three foul shots in the game's last 31 seconds, including a tiebreaking free throw with 2 seconds remaining, led Butler over Wright State 63-62 on Friday night.
Nored could just as easily have been the goat rather than the hero for Butler (9-7, 3-1 Horizon League), though. His attempt to purposely miss the second of two free throws to run out the clock backfired when he prematurely stepped over the line while shooting, giving the ball back to Wright State for one last chance.
The Raiders (8-9, 3-2) got the ball in to leading scorer Julius Mays, who had 24 points and hit two 3s, but a lunging 3-point attempt from far behind the line clanged off the rim.
Andrew Smith, who led the Bulldogs with 19 points, hit two big 3-pointers from the right wing to answer Wright State scores in the game's final 2 minutes.
"I'm excited about the way we're playing late in games," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "We're really playing with some good purpose."
Butler overcame 21 turnovers to win its fourth straight and has won five of its last six, all by five points or fewer. Wright State had a four-game winning streak snapped. The largest lead for either team was four points, there were 16 ties and 20 lead changes.
The lead changed hands 10 times in the final 7:31, and Wright State went up 57-54 on a 3-pointer by Mays with 1:54 left. Then Smith, a 6-foot-11 post player, stepped outside and tied the score with his first 3-pointer. On the next possession, Stevens called for a play to have Smith shoot another 3-pointer and he made it. Smith had made only seven 3-pointers entering the game and was shooting 30.4 percent from that range.
"To do it all over again, you go up three with 1:40 to go and you have three timeouts, you call one and you make sure there (are) no 3s no matter who it is," Wright State coach Billy Donlon said. "I was hoping that Brad was going to call one, and that's an error."
Mays, a junior transfer from North Carolina State, had 14 of his total in the second half. He got as good a look at the basket as could be expected on the last shot.
"When it hit the rim I thought it was going to stay in, but it rimmed out," Mays said.
Khyle Marshall added 14 points off the bench for Butler and Nored finished with 11.
The 21 turnovers tied a season high for the Bulldogs, who entered averaging 13.6 per game. They also made only 3 of 16 3-point shots and 8 of 16 free throws. But they made up for it by limiting the Raiders to only 16 points off those turnovers, shooting 56.5 percent from the field and forcing the Raiders into 18 turnovers.
Butler emerged from a sloppy and tightly contested first half with a 27-25 lead.
Wright State led 14-10 on Mays' 3-pointer with 9:10 left before the break. Butler began to protect the ball more and took its first lead since 2-0 on two free throws by Chrishawn Hopkins at 16-15 with 6:58 left.
After six more lead changes, Marshall scored on an alley-oop dunk for a 25-21 Butler lead with 2:14 left. Reggie Arceneaux answered with a 3-pointer 12 seconds later. Trailing by two, the Raiders got the ball again with 9.5 seconds left before intermission and had a chance to tie or take the lead, but Butler's defense stopped the Raiders from attempting a shot.