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Butler wins battle on boards, beats No. 21 Seton Hall on the road 79-75

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Butler kept emerging from dog fights in the paint with big rebounds that gave them second chances, and the Prudential Center crowd kept groaning as their team was getting pinned in for extra defensive possessions on Tuesday night.

Roosevelt Jones was just one Bulldog that attacked the glass for Butler.
Roosevelt Jones was just one Bulldog that attacked the glass for Butler.
Wendell Cruz

NEWARK - No. 21 Seton Hall managed to erode an eight-point second half Butler lead, but ultimately fell 79-75 in overtime on Tuesday at Prudential Center. Offensive rebounds and second chance opportunities played a major role with the Bulldogs winning those battles 18 to 14 and 19 to 10, respectively.

Used as a weapon, Butler benefited from eight second half offensive rebounds and four in under two minutes during overtime to dispatch of Seton Hall and register their second tough road win in the New York-New Jersey area this month.

"That was real big for us," Butler guard Roosevelt Jones said of their rebounding advantage. "Our assistant coaches were making an emphasis to make sure we get 40-percent of our rebounds back [of the shots] that we shoot on the offensive end."

"Their length and their size really has done us in, especially here," said Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard, who has now lost three of four times to Butler since the start of last season. "We had opportunities last time we were home [against Butler] to win it. The length today, I thought Kameron Woods, he had some big rebounds [15], they got some big rebounds. Their size has kind of bothered us."

Butler scored 19 second chance points on the night, putting them plus-nine over Seton Hall in that department and ultimately handing them an even, fiercely contested game that took every possession in regulation and all but one in overtime to decide. Sterling Gibbs said his teammates knew their match up would Butler would "be like a football game" coming in.

"We had some opportunities at the end of the first half to go up six or eight and I thought that was big, we only went up four," said Willard of Butler's ability to turn the tide around the halftime break.

Butler started the second period on a 13-1 run, erasing a four-point Seton Hall cushion that they carried into the locker room.

"We just kind of came out a little sluggish, not as crisp as we had been coming out," said Willard. "I think we're getting a little reliant on Sterling trying to bail us out at times. We've got to do a better job at trying to bail him out a little bit."

Sterling Gibbs had 30 points and was repeatedly called upon to hit big shots (6-9 from 3pt) to keep Seton Hall in the running during the second half. It turned out that Gibbs would receive a little help from a friend. Khadeen Carrington was the Robin to Gibbs' Batman against Butler, the freshman scored 20 points off the bench including the game-tying basket on the Hall's final possession of regulation.

"Deen-o did a good job for us," said Willard of Carrington's contributions. "That's a lot of minutes [36] for a guy who has not been playing those minutes ... He's continuing to figure it out and is getting better and better every game."

Despite the 50 combined points from Carrington and Gibbs, Roosevelt Jones (23) and Kellen Dunham (21) were able to match them and then some. Most importantly on the night, Jones and Dunham combined for 13 rebounds, a reflection of Butler's top-40 ranking on both the offensive and defensive glass and their team-oriented rebounding approach. Jaren Sina (0 pts, 4 asts), Gibbs, and Carrington added just six combined boards to Angel Delgado's 15-board effort. Brandon Mobley pitched in with seven.

"I think that's one of the things we need to really work on," said Gibbs of the guards' ability to help out Delgado on the glass. "The fact that they were able to get in there and rebound the ball and get out and get some easy buckets, that really helped them. We need to make sure we can help Angel and get out on the break as well."

"I think they expect him to get every rebound," said Willard of his other guys helping out Delgado, who he has repeatedly compared to Dennis Rodman, on the glass. "When you play with a guy like him, you can get a little complacent."

Seton Hall snared just one offensive rebound during the first 14 minutes of the second half and their three second chances early in overtime yielded no points. Butler would answer with four offensive rebounds of their own in the extra period resulting in three crucial points that would prove to be the difference.

"If we just get a couple rebounds..." Willard momentarily pondered within the Rock late on Tuesday night. "We just didn't rebound the basketball and that's been an Achilles heel of ours."

"I think they have one of the best rebounding teams in the country," said Khadeen Carrington post-game. "They had [Roosevelt] Jones, he's husky and a strong player, [Andrew] Chrabascz and Woods, those guys get after it on the boards. It was kinda tough, we've got to do a better job rebounding."

"That's one of the big points that we're going to focus on in practice over the next week or so," said Carrington of getting active on the glass. "Angel definitely needs help on the boards. Me, Sterling, and Jaren need to do a better job with that."

Carrington and his teammates now have nine days to improve that facet of their game before hosting DePaul (9-9, 3-2) next Thursday, a team that struggles mightily to rebound.