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Pitt Beats Butler 68-62 in OT to Reach Best-of-Three CBI Finals

File: Talib Zanna came off the bench to score a team-high 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and grab eight rebounds - six on the offensive end.

File: Talib Zanna came off the bench to score a team-high 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and grab eight rebounds - six on the offensive end.

March 21, 2012

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (AP)--Pittsburgh sort of had a chance to even the score with Butler in overtime on Wednesday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Lamar Patterson and Tray Woodall combined to score 14 points in overtime Wednesday, helping the Panthers rally to eliminate the Bulldogs 68-62 in a rematch of last year's crazy NCAA tournament game.

The victory sends Pitt into the College Basketball Invitational tournament championship round, a best-of-three series that starts next week, while Butler heads home for the summer. 

Pitt (20-16) will play at Washington State on Monday, March 26 in Pullman, Wash. Tipoff is at 10 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. PT on HDnet. The series will return to Pittsburgh on Wednesday, March 28 at the Petersen Events Center. That contest will tipoff at 7 p.m. on HDnet. If necessary, game three is set for Friday, March 30 at the Petersen Events Center (tipoff at 7 p.m.).

"It feels good, but they got the most important win," Woodall said. "We didn't look at this as some type of redemption. We just wanted to come out and get a win." 

With the victory, Pitt reached the 20-win mark for the 11th consecutive season and advances to face Washington State, which beat Oregon State 72-55 on Wednesday.

Talib Zanna led the Panthers (20-16) with 15 points, but it was Patterson and Woodall who rallied the Panthers late and helped them surge past the Bulldogs in overtime. Patterson had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Woodall scored all 12 of his points in the game's final 11 minutes. 

On a night that Pittsburgh's top scorer, Ashton Gibbs missed all eight of his shots and was held scoreless, coach Jamie Dixon mixed up the strategy and decided to use some of his younger players more extensively.

Patterson and Woodall took care of the rest. 

"We know he (Gibbs) struggled shooting today, but that's basically Pitt basketball," Patterson said. "We're all capable of contributing."

For a while, it looked like it might be a replica of what happened last season when the game flipped several times in the final two seconds. That game wasn't over until Butler's Matt Howard made a tie-breaking free throw with 0.8 seconds left and the Panthers missed a long buzzer-beating heave. 

This time, Butler (22-15) never trailed over the final 16:31 of regulation and still led 52-49 with 45.9 seconds to go. 

But instead of relying on their usually proficient free throw shooting, their errant shots proved costly. Khyle Marshall scored a career-high 22 points, and Andrew Smith added 19 for the Bulldogs.

"We had our chances, we had a lot of opportunities to win this game, and that's what I just told our 13 returnees," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "We need to get that taken care of."

Patterson tied the score at 52 with a 3-pointer with 36.3 seconds left, and when the Bulldogs tried to play for the final shot, Roosevelt Jones was fouled with 4.2 seconds to go. He missed both free throws, giving Patterson a chance to win it with a half-court heave. It was well short.

In overtime, things got even worse.

Patterson's short jumper with 1:47 to go broke a 57-57 tie and started a closing 11-5 run to seal the victory and prevent Butler, the two-time NCAA national runner-ups, from playing for a third straight postseason championship. 

Ronald Nored finished with four points, four assists and two points in his final college game at Butler. Nored tied Thomas Jackson's career record for steals (207) and played in more postseason games (16) than any player in Butler history.