Saturday, April 02, 2011

2011 Final Four Semi-Final Recaps: Butler and Connecticut Prevail

The Butler Bulldogs and Connecticut Huskies advanced to the NCAA men's basketball national championship game with wins in semi-final matches on Saturday.

Butler 70 VCU 62 - Shelvin Mack scored 24 points and Butler's defense clamped down on the VCU Rams late in the contest, sending the Butler Bulldogs to their second consecutive national championship game appearance.

Mack was 8-for-11 from the field and canned 5 of 6 three-point attempts. Matt Howard, who was saddled with four fouls for the last nine minutes of the game, added 17 points, getting 11 of them from the charity stripe.

VCU battled gamely and stayed close until the final few minutes, when Butler exerted their dominance, thwarting VCU on their offensive trips while tacking on points as time wore down.

Jamie Skeen led all scorers with 27 points, but did not have enough support from his teammates. Bradford Burgess, who contributed 15, was the only other Ram to score more than 4 points.

Butler lost to Duke, 61-59 in last season's national championship game. 28-9 Butler has won 14 straight, the longest current streak in the nation.

Connecticut 56 Kentucky 55 - Shabazz Napier was only 1-for-7 from the field, but his two free throws with 2 seconds left gave UConn a 4-point lead and a trip to the national championship game against Butler, Monday night.

Brandon Knight hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but it was material only to the margin of victory.

The Huskies established a 10-point lead at the half, but the Wildcats came out of intermission on a mission and quickly tied the game and battled through long stretches with the Huskies, neither team able to gain an upper hand.

Player of the year runner-up, Kemba Walker, scored just 18 points, but still was the game's high scorer. Walker added six rebounds and seven assists. Jeremy Lamb added 12 points and eight rebounds.

The 31-9 Huskies, the #3 seed from the West region, will play the 28-9 Butler Bulldogs, the #8 seed from the Southeast region for the national championship on Monday night at 9:21 pm ET. The game will be televised live from Houston's Reliant Stadium, exclusively by CBS.

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