Houston, Texas—There would be no last second heartbreak this season. Connecticut made sure of that.
Butler found themselves swarmed by the athletic Huskies for most of the second half, as an early second half run was too much for the Bulldogs to handle as they fall in the national championship game 53-41 Monday night at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
For a second straight year, Butler must settle for second after a defensive slugfest in Texas. In the end, however, it was Butler's porous 18 percent shooting from the field that doomed them down the stretch.
Brad Steven's team finishes the season 28-10 and has their 14-game winning streak snapped by a Connecticut team that ended the year undefeated in their final 11 contests.
Two of the hottest teams in college basketball, however, were ice cold in front of nearly 70,000 people at the cavernous Reliant Stadium.
Both teams endured a major shooting slump for the first 20 minutes, with neither team able to seize control of the contest as the point totals stayed in the teens for most of the half.
Kemba Walker was an inconsistent 3-of-13 from the field in the first half and had just seven points. Butler's top scorer in the tournament, Shelvin Mack, went just 2-for-7 with seven points in the first 20 minutes.
Mack made up for it at the end of the half, hitting a 25-foot three pointer to give the Bulldogs a 22-19 lead at the break.
It seemed as if that would inspire the Bulldogs to big things in the second half, especially when Chase Stigall hit another long range three-pointer to give Butler a 25-19 lead. Instead it inspired Connecticut, who went on the defining run of the national championship.
After that trey, the Bulldogs struggled from the field and the Huskies took advantage, jumping out to a double-digit lead on the strength of a 22-3 run to which the Bulldogs never recovered.
Jeremy Lamb was the key to the run, scoring 12 second half points after being shutout in the first half. Walker ended up leading the Huskies with 16 points despite shooting just 5-of-19 from the field.
Mack finished with 13 for the Bulldogs and was the only one in the blue on Monday night to reach double figures. Matt Howard's stellar Butler career came to an end in a seven-point, six rebound performance.