Horizon League Tournament Final Recap

by Matthew Stevens | March 6th, 2007

Anybody confused as to why Wright State’s Dashaun Wood was named Horizon League Player of the Year found out Tuesday night in his team’s biggest game.The senior guard ended the game with 27 points, nine rebounds and made the two crucial plays that allowed the Raiders to earn their second-ever NCAA Tournament berth by beating 17th-ranked Butler 60-55.

Wood swatted back a seemingly uncontested layup by Butler star guard A. J. Graves and then hit a three-pointer with 1:06 remaining in the game to give the Raiders (23-9, 13-3) a 55-52 lead.

WSU would never relinquish the lead and won the Horizon League Tournament on its own floor.

Head coaches of bubble teams all across the country turned off their televisions in disgust as a Butler (27-5, 13-3) win would have guaranteed just one bid from the Horizon League. However, it is likely Wright State knocked another team still fighting for at-large bid out of the field of 65.

While it doesn’t affect our current bracket (we’ve had Wright State penciled in as the Horizon automatic bid since they assumed the conference lead back in early February), at least one bubble team will certainly have its bracket busted on Selection Sunday.

Butler forward Brandon Crone kept the Bulldogs in the game with a team-high 20 points, but the senior will be remembered for missing the first of two foul shots while down two with 11.6 seconds left.

Graves was held to only 12 points on five-of-16 shooting from the field and just two-of-11 from beyond the arc. Down by three with one chance left to tie, Graves pumped to get Wood in the air but his three-point leaner bounced off the front of the rim to secure the win for the Raiders.

A much-needed spark off the bench for the Raiders came from forward Scottie Wilson. The junior from nearby Middleton, OH scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds in 24 minutes.

Butler must now regroup knowing they will likely receive an at-large berth to the dance but the Bulldogs have lost their last four games against opponents in the RPI Top 100. A double-digit seed is not out of the question.

Wright State will try to erase the memory of its only other NCAA Tournament appearance, as the Raiders received a 16-seed in 1993 and lost to Indiana 97-54.

–Matthew Stevens

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