Final - OT
  for this game

Graves helps Butler squeeze by Loyola in overtime

Mar 4, 2007 - 3:58 AM DAYTON, Ohio (Ticker) -- For a guy who missed all of his field-goal attempts, A.J. Graves made his presence felt all over the court for Butler.

Pete Campbell scored 18 points and Graves added 12 despite going 0-of-9 from the field as the No. 16 Bulldogs posted a 67-66 overtime victory over Loyola-Chicago in the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament.

Brandon Crone had 17 points and Mike Green added nine for second-seeded Butler (27-5), which advanced to the championship game and will face top-seeded Wright State on Tuesday.

"It's gratifying to get a win down the wire," Butler coach Todd Lickliter said. "Our guys hung tough, I'm proud of them. It was a great game for our league."

Graves, who was named to the first-team All-Horizon League squad, missed all of his field goals, but was 12-of-12 from the free-throw line to go along with four assists and five steals.

"A.J. struggled a bit but played really well," Campbell said. "We're not a one-man team. Even though he was not hitting his shot, he drew attention on off-the-ball schemes."

Graves made two of his six overtime free throws with 20 seconds left to put the Bulldogs up, 67-64.

"Even though the Ramblers really defended him well, he was perfect from the line," Lickliter said. "He found a way to score."

After a follow shot by Majak Kou cut the Ramblers' deficit to 67-66 with 14 ticks left, Graves caused a tie-up as time expired after two shot attempts by Loyola (21-11) missed their mark.

One more win would match the school record for wins (27) set by Butler in 2002-03. The Bulldogs last won the tourney championship in 2001.

"This is a step in the right direction," said Crone, who connected on 7-of-14 shots and hauled in 10 rebounds. "We don't want an NCAA Tournament bid in the hands of a committee. We're not secure until we have the championship at hand."

Blake Schilb scored 29 points on 10-of-21 shooting and J.R. Blount added 15 for the Ramblers, who had won eight of their last nine games.

"It was a great basketball game," Loyola coach Jim Whitesell said. "It's tough to be here as the losing coach. I'm proud of our guys. It was anyone's game until the last play."

Schilb, who scored 31 points in a 66-62 victory over Illinois-Chicago on Friday, was a workhorse after halftime, tallying 23 of his total in the second half and overtime.

"I was thinking I didn't want to lose," Schilb said. "It's always tough. You wonder how your season/career will end.

"I'm not sure if I'll play another college game. I had fun at Loyola and if I'm going out, it was the way to go."