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Beating Maryland is sweet for Butler

Fifth-seeded Bulldogs advance to the round of 16 with a 62-59 victory over the fourth-seeded Terrapins.

March 18, 2007|From the Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A.J. Graves can't grow any wider or taller, and the junior point guard doesn't believe Butler will ever shed its mid-major label.

But the Bulldogs sure can pull off a surprise or two once they get into the NCAA tournament.

Goodbye, Maryland. Welcome back, Butler, the small Indiana school that clinched its second trip to the round of 16 in four years with a 62-59 victory over the Terrapins on Saturday.

Graves led the way, scoring 19 points, including a key three-point basket with 2:09 left.

"Man, it was amazing," said Graves, who is generously listed at 6 feet 1. "To be put in a position like that to make a big play and to have teammates backing up and supporting you, it was just an amazing feeling."

Butler (29-6), the No. 5-seeded team in the Midwest Regional, advanced to face the winner of today's Florida-Purdue game next week in St. Louis. The Bulldogs improved to 7-6 in seven tournament appearances -- six since 1997.

"I think we've proven we can play with anybody," said forward Brandon Crone, who scored 13 points. "This means everything."

Maryland (25-9), making its first tournament appearance since 2004, has not advanced past the second round since 2003. The Terrapins were undone by an aggressive and smaller team, which kept their offense out of rhythm.

Graves outplayed Maryland's star swingman, D.J. Strawberry, who failed to score a point in the first half and finished with eight.

Mike Jones led Maryland with 21 points, but it had only one other player -- James Gist with 13 -- in double-digits. That's unusual for a team that entered the game averaging nearly 80 points.

Crone scored with three minutes left to put the Bulldogs ahead, 58-56. Then, after Maryland's Ekene Ibekwe missed from six feet, Graves made a three-pointer from the left corner to all but secure the victory.

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