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Friday, July 12, 2024

Dawgs best Cal in double overtime thriller

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On Saturday Dec.9, the Butler Men’s Basketball Team welcomed the CAL Golden Bears to Hinkle in a game with a theme: “MATTAritaville.” Students came decked out in sunglasses, leis, floral print shirts and swim trunks. The attire didn’t foreshadow the action on the basketball court, as the team from Oakland proved no day at the beach for the Dawgs.

First-year Cal Head Coach Mark Madsen led the visitors into the Fieldhouse. The Mad Dog – as Madsen was known for his aggressive approach to the game during his playing days- led Stanford to the 1998 NCAA Final Four. He was a two-time All-American at the school whose campus is 30 miles south of his current assignment at UC Berkeley.  Madsen is also famous for his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning two NBA Championships with Shaq & Kobe in ’01 & ’02.

The Golden Bears, out of the PAC 12, entered the game with a 3-5 record but were coming off a win against a decent Santa Clara team who posted victories against Oregon and Stanford in November. Butler came into the game on a four-game winning streak with their most recent victory against Buffalo Dec. 5.

Butler Univeristy guard D.J. Davis (4) driving to the cup during a game against East Tennessee State at Hinkle Fieldhouse, located near the westside of Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo/Walt Thomas)

The key matchup in this tussle was in the backcourt between two transfers. The head-to-head was reminiscent of a big time Big East backcourt dual from 15 years ago. Cal PG Jalen Cone is a carbon copy of former UCONN All-American Kemba Walker. Same build. Plays the same. Moves the same. Wears the same number! Similarly, Butler’s Posh Alexander mirrors former Arlington and Cincinnati Bearcat star Deonta Vaughn. Same build. Plays the same. Moves the same. Wears the same number! Cone drew first blood, hitting a three at the 18:46 mark to open the scoring. The jumper would rip the seal off the basket for Bear big Fardaws Aimaq who would follow with a three of his own. The Canadian Aimaq would add two free throws and another three to cap a 16-4 run out of the gate. The Dawgs missed a lot of shots around the rim early.   Butler found themselves down 16-4 before Dawg 7-footer Andrew Screen scored with 12:35 left in the first half. The home team’s defense really picked up after a three-point play by Bulldog freshmen Finley Bizjack a couple minutes later. Posh Alexander entered the story with a big defensive rebound, push in transition and reverse spin layup. Cal’s lead cut to 18-14. Butler crowd erupts. Mark Madsen calls a timeout. Game on! Cal would push the lead back out to nine and remain in control the remainder of the first half until a Bizjack three with four seconds remaining in the half would send the teams into the locker room with Cal leading 37-34.

Butler vs Texas Tech crowd
A shot of the many, many fans in attendence for the Butler vs. Texas Tech matchup on Nov. 30 at Hinkle Fieldhouse near the westside of Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo/Walt Thomas)

This Butler team has consistently started the second half strong at Hinkle this season. That trend continued in this one. A Jalen Thomas dunk would give the home team their first lead of the contest at the 18:28 mark in the second half. Cal answered. The action was back and forth.  The Bulldog crowd desperately wanted to get into to the game. But every time it looked like Butler was going to make a run, Cal would get a bucket. Five minutes into the second half, the sun peaked through the windows at Hinkle. And then, Jahmyl Telfort got going. Assist to DJ Davis for a triple. A couple possessions later, Telfort converts a layup. Next possession, Telfort buries a three. At the 14:20 mark the Butler crowd is rocking with the Dawgs up one. Over the next eight minutes Posh Alexander puts up eight points to push the Butler lead to ten. But Cal just won’t go away. The Bears would follow the lead of Texas Tech, shooting the ball extremely well from long distance down the stretch. The visitors would cut the lead to three with sixteen seconds left in the game. Madsen drew up a play to the ball to guard Jalen Cone – the Kemba Walker clone who opened the game with a deep jumper. Cone would miss a three, get the ball back off a Aimaq offense board, then burry a triple from the top of the key with three seconds left to send the game to OT!

The OT period was high scoring with the Bears and Dawgs going back and forth, snapping at each other, specifically Jalen Cone and Jahmyl Telfort. Telfort, the Bulldogs second leading scorer, was 1-7 in the first half, but put the team on his back in crunch time scoring 8 of the team’s 10 points in OT. His layup with 11 seconds left sent the game into a second OT.

The second OT was all Butler. And it was everyone. Telfort, Alexander, Screen and Brooks all got in on the fun, outscoring the Bears 14-7. A stone-cold killer, Telfort finally showed a little emotion strutting back on defense after hitting a three with thirty seconds left, putting the Dawgs up eight and seemingly sealing the win for the good guys.

Butler University cheerleaders getting the crowd fired up during a home game at Hinkle Fieldhouse, located near the westside of Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo/Walt Thomas)

After the game, Coach Thad Matta said, “Posh, Jahmyl and Pierre through the double overtimes, their faces were stoic. They knew what had to be done. Our execution in overtime was tremendous.”

In similar fashion, Coach Madsen echoed how proud he was of his team, “Obviously, we lost a tough one in double overtime today. I was proud of our guys for battling. We needed to get more defensive stops late in the game. Give a lot of credit to Butler. They made the plays when they had to.”

Butler was led by Posh Alexander with 21 points. Jahmyl Telfort came on strong late with 20 points, and Pierre Brooks, who leads the team in scoring this season, chipped in with 18. Cal was led by Fardwas Aimaq with 24 points. Jalen Cone kept Cal in it with 23.

The Bulldogs wrap up the non-conference season on Friday night Dec. 15 against Saginaw Valley State at Hinkle. Game tips at 7 p.m. on FS1.

Austin Taylor is the Executive Director of The City League. Contact Austin at austin@thecityleague.org. For more Butler Bulldogs coverage courtesy of Austin and the Indianapolis Recorder, click here.

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