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Butler to make fourth NCAA trip in five years

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Posted: Tuesday March 06, 2001 9:27 PM
Updated: Wednesday March 07, 2001 8:02 AM


DAYTON, Ohio (AP) -- A defense that seemed to be everywhere got Butler back in the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in five years.

LaVall Jordan scored 10 points and shut down Rashad Phillips, the Midwestern Collegiate Conference's two-time player of the year, as Butler beat Detroit 53-38 on Tuesday night for the tournament title.

Butler fans rushed the court and hoisted Jordan, who set the tone for the lowest-scoring MCC title game.

"It was wonderful," Jordan. "To cap off my senior year with another ring is great."

Butler (23-7) also made the NCAA tournament in 1997, '98 and 2000, losing in the first round each time. This time, the Bulldogs are heading in on a roll.

The Bulldogs have won eight in a row, matching the seventh-best streak in school history. The 23 wins also equal the school record.

Defense did it. Detroit (22-10) shot only 24 percent from the field, got outrebounded 43-28 and was held to a season low in points by the conference's stingiest defense.

"This was just a situation where it all collapsed at the wrong time," Detroit head coach Perry Watson said.

It was a familiar disappointment for the Titans, who have played the Bulldogs for the tournament's automatic NCAA berth in each of the past three seasons. Detroit has lost the last two.

Last year, Butler pulled away to a 62-43 victory that was the lowest-scoring in the tournament's history until the rematch Tuesday night.

Phillips, a fluid guard who became the school's all-time leading scorer during the tournament, went only 4-of-15 from the field and 1-of-9 on 3-point attempts as he got few openings.

"We settled for jump shots in the first half and our shots weren't falling," Phillips said.

Jordan, the Bulldogs' top defender, was on Phillips most of the time.

"We've played against each other so much, we kind of know each other inside and out," Jordan said. "We wanted to be active and make him take tough shots, and he did."

Rylan Hainje led Butler with 20 points. Phillips managed 11, three more than his season low, and no other Titans player reached double figures.

In two other games against Butler this season, Phillips was held to 13 and 16 points. He was on a roll coming into the championship game, scoring at least 23 points in each of the last seven games.

In addition to stopping Detroit's biggest threat, Jordan opened the game with a 3-pointer and had a pull-up jumper during a 10-point run that pushed the lead to 29-17 late in the first half.

Rattled by Butler's tight defense, Detroit went more than eight minutes without a field goal in the first half.

Phillips started taking the ball to the basket in the second half, scoring on a couple of drives during a six-point spurt. Darius Belin's 3-pointer -- only Detroit's second in 16 attempts to that point -- cut the lead to 31-28.

Jordan tightened his defense on Phillips and hit a 3-pointer during a nine-point spurt that pushed the lead to 40-28. Detroit never got closer than seven the rest of the way.

No MCC team has made it past the second round of the NCAA tournament since Xavier -- now in the Atlantic 10 -- reached a regional semifinal in 1990.

In the final seconds, some Detroit fans taunted Butler by chanting: "Florida," a reference to the Bulldogs' 69-68 overtime loss in the NCAA first round last year.

Related information
Stories's Big Dance Card
2001 NCAA Tournament Automatic Bids
Inside College Basktball: Weekly Seed Report
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