Butler’s Chuck Harris and Simas Lukosius combined for 56 points as the Bulldogs took an 89-82 overtime win over Xavier Wednesday night in the first round of the 2022 BIG EAST Tournament at Madison Square Garden.
Twelve of Lukosius’s output came in the overtime session as he propelled the Bulldogs to victory after Harris, Bo Hodges and Aaron Thompson fouled out.
With the win, Butler advances to Thursday’s quarterfinals and a noon tip against top-seeded Providence. It’s also the second consecutive season that Butler has ended Xavier’s season in overtime in the first round of the BIG EAST Tournament.
Bryce Nze posted his fourth double-double of the season with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Both are season-highs and the 15 rebounds are the most for Nze in a Butler uniform.
In a game where neither team led by more than six through regulation, Xavier held that six-point lead with 52 seconds remaining in regulation. A Harris bucket trimmed the lead to four before the Musketeers missed four consecutive free throws sandwiched around an offensive rebound. Two Harris free throws then cut the lead to 66-64 with 29 seconds remaining. Thompson then drew an offensive foul on Xavier and Harris’s eighth straight Bulldog point tied the game.
Paul Scruggs then scored in the lane for Xavier to give the Musketeers a 68-66 lead with eight seconds to go. Thinking Xavier was up three, he then fouled Lukosius with four seconds to play. The freshman calmly made both free throws to send the game to the extra session.
Butler never trailed in overtime and at one time led by 11.
The Bulldogs went 25-for-32 from the free throw line as Lukosius made 11 of his 13 attempts. Butler committed only eight turnovers in the 45 minutes.
Xavier scored 54 of their points in the paint, but the Bulldogs’ defense forced them into a 3-for-15 performance from three-point range. Xavier missed 16 of their 29 free throw attempts.
Jack Nunge led Xavier with 24 points.