Bulldogs steal win on the road, first at Xavier since 2008
CINCINNATI, Ohio – Kelan Martin scored 25 points and Kamar Baldwin added 17 as No. 22 Butler topped Xavier 88-79 at the Cintas Center Sunday afternoon.
The win snapped a Butler five-game losing streak at Xavier, giving the Bulldogs their first win at the Cintas Center since 2008.
Holding a slim lead, 74-72 with less than four minutes to play, the Butler defense sparked a 6-0 run off back-to-back-to-back steals leading to layups.
“It can be backbreaking,” says Chris Holtmann. “It’s happened to us before, so you get a couple late scores in transition off turnovers, and it can change the tide of the game pretty quickly.”
“It was very important,” adds freshman Kamar Baldwin, who finished with five steals on the day, “just us being in the right spot, being able to get steals, and make it count on the other end with easy buckets.”
That clinching stretch in Butler’s favor was just the latest in a string of back-and-forth play, Sunday afternoon. Xavier rattled off an 11-2 run in the first half followed by Butler going on a 10-2 run. Momentum shifted constantly as players tried to remain mentally consistent.
“We played very well together,” explains senior Andrew Chrabascz. “I think that’s a big thing. When moments got low, we got even more together.”
This win locks Butler in to the two seed in the upcoming Big East Tournament, an important accomplishment to Holtmann and his staff, but with the entirety of March still to come, the head coach isn’t ready to take any bows just yet.
“At some point,” says Holtmann, “the guys will look back on the season and this week and be incredibly proud of what they’ve done.”