Butler apparently likes to produce drama in its EA Sports Maui Invitational victories.
One game, it's a buzzer-beater.
The next, the Bulldogs need to hold off a furious rally.
Butler’s Khyle Marshall dunks in front North Carolina’s P.J. Hairston during the second half of the Bulldogs’ 82-71 victory over the Tar Heels on Tuesday.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Rotnei Clark scored 14 of his 17 points in the first half and Kellen Dunham had 14 of his 17 in the second as Butler beat North Carolina 82-71 in a semifinal game Tuesday at the Lahaina Civic Center.
Butler (3-1) led 60-31 with 12 minutes, 38 seconds remaining before North Carolina, No. 9 in The Associated Press poll, upped the defensive pressure and got as close as 77-71 with 1:02 left.
"Well, obviously, it was an entertaining game to be a part of," said Butler coach Brad Stevens. "As a coach, you know, even when you are up 30 or 29 or whatever we were, you know there's enough talent on that other bench to make that up quickly. They cut it to about 15 in about two minutes. We have got to get more sure with the ball in those moments."
BUTLER Bulldogs 82
N. CAROLINA Tar Heels 71
On Monday, Butler defeated Marquette 72-71 on Clarke's off-balance 24-foot buzzer-beater.
On Tuesday, Butler finished 12-of-25 from 3-point range.
"The guys who shot them, you feel really good about those guys making them," Stevens said. "They're all real good shooters. If Kellen or Rotnei are open, it has a good chance of going in."
Butler will play Illinois in today's title game.
North Carolina (4-1) is in the third-place game with Chaminade.
The Tar Heels dropped to 14-3 at the Maui Invitational - the three-time champions had won their previous 10 games in Lahaina. Duke has the tournament record for victories, with a 15-0 mark.
Clarke went 4-of-9 from the field in the first half, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range, with a couple from NBA distance. Clarke capped the first-half scoring by knocking down all three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt to put the Bulldogs up 35-18.
"I just wanted to come in and be aggressive again and try to get my teammates involved," Clarke said. "It wasn't all about me."
The Tar Heels' first-half point total was their lowest since 1996.
Butler outrebounded North Carolina 24-12 in the first half and 39-29 for the game. The Bulldogs' Kyhle Marshall finished with 11 rebounds.
"When you look at it guys, last year we led the nation in rebound margin and this year we're probably 15 or something like that," said North Carolina coach Roy Williams. "They outrebounded us by 12 in the first half. We got one offensive rebound in the first half."
Dunham made four of his five 3-point attempts in the second half.
"We just dug too big a hole against a very, very good team," Williams said. "A team that's really well coached, and seems to have everything inside mentally and physically so much more than we did tonight."
The Tar Heels trapped in the frontcourt after falling way behind, able to force turnovers and put together a charge.
"The run we made was us just being aggressive on both ends of the floor," said North Carolina's P.J. Hairston, who scored all 15 of his points in the second half. "They were turning the ball over, they were getting rattled."
Hairston scored 11 points during a 14-2 run, which got the Tar Heels within 62-45 with 9:39 left.
Butler's Chase Stigall nailed consecutive 3-pointers - his first points of the game - to push the lead back to 68-45 with 7:36 remaining.
The Tar Heels, who forced 11 second-half turnovers, made one last run. Reggie Bullock scored all 13 of his points in the second half and Marcus Paige had eight of his 13 in the final 20 minutes.
North Carolina was 19-of-38 from the field in the second half.
"We got it to six and I'm dumb enough to think we're going to win the game," Wil-liams said.
* Kyle Sakamoto is at firstname.lastname@example.org
Clarke 5-11 3-3 17, Jones 3-5 0-1 6, Marshall 3-5 4-5 10, Dunham 5-10 2-2 17, Smith 3-6 7-8 13, Barlow 0-0 0-0 0, Fromm 3-9 0-0 7, Aldridge 0-1 1-2 1, Woods 1-3 0-0 2, Stigall 2-3 3-4 9. Totals 25-53 20-25 82.
NORTH CAROLINA (71)
Strickland 2-7 3-4 7, Paige 5-10 1-1 13, Hubert 0-1 0-0 0, Bullock 5-13 1-1 13, McAdoo 5-11 0-0 10, James 1-1 0-0 2, McDonald 1-3 0-0 3, Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 3-3 0-0 6, Hairston 4-13 5-6 15, Simmons 0-0 0-0 0, Tokoto 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 27-63 10-12 71.
Halftime-Butler 35-18. 3-Point Goals-Butler 12-25 (Dunham 5-9, Clarke 4-6, Stigall 2-3, Fromm 1-5, Smith 0-2), North Carolina 7-22 (Paige 2-5, Bullock 2-6, Hairston 2-8, McDonald 1-2, Strickland 0-1). Fouled Out-Smith. Rebounds-Butler 39 (Marshall 11), North Caro-lina 29 (Hairston 7). Assists-Butler 12 (Jones 4), North Carolina 13 (Paige 5). Total Fouls-Butler 20, North Carolina 20. A-2,400.