FAIRBORN, Ohio -- N'Gai Evans scored a career-high 26 points and Wright State rallied in the final minutes Sunday night to knock off Butler 69-64.
With Wright State (12-7, 5-2 Horizon League) trailing 62-61, Evans, the Raiders' senior point guard, drove to the basket and scored over Butler big men Andrew Smith and Matt Howard with 46 seconds left. Smith fouled Evans, who made the free throw for a 64-62 lead. After a Butler miss, Evans added two more free throws for a 66-62 lead with 29 seconds left.Down 67-64 in the final seconds, Butler (13-6, 5-2) tried to tie the score when Shelvin Mack fired a 3-point attempt from the top of the key. Mack's shot went halfway down then teetered on the rim before falling off."I'd like to thank the angel on the rim," said Wright State first-year coach Billy Donlon, whose team ended a seven-game losing streak to Butler.Troy Tabler grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 2.6 seconds left. He made both free throws.Butler, last season's NCAA Tournament runner-up, dropped out of a first-place tie in the Horizon with Valparaiso."That is the toughest-minded and most physical team you will play against in Butler," Donlon said. "It's why they are who they are."When you can compete at that level for a night, that means you have that in your tank."Cooper Land added 13 points for Wright State. Smith led Butler with 15 points, and Mack and Howard scored 12 apiece.Both teams shot 45.1 percent from the field (23 of 51), but Wright State was 19 of 27 from the free-throw line (70.4 percent) and Butler was 13 of 18 (72.2 percent).The score was tied at 34 at halftime after five ties and four lead changes. The second half was just as tight.Evans kept Wright State in it with 13 of the Raiders' first 16 second-half points. His layup in traffic and ensuing free throw gave Wright State a 50-49 lead with 10:35 to play.Butler regrouped behind five points from Mack to build a 60-55 lead, but Wright State came right back to trail 60-59 on a jumper by A.J. Pacher and a steal and layup by Tabler with 3:45 left.Evans then dished off on a drive to Land for an easy layup and a 61-60 lead. Howard countered for Butler with a strong move inside for a 62-61 lead with a minute left. It would be Butler's final lead.