VANDALIA – The Butler Aviators found a hole they dug just a little too deep versus Troy on Friday night.
Trailing 61-52 with 1:20 remaining, the Aviators mounted a 7-0 run and had two chances to tie or win in the final 10 seconds but ultimately fell short 61-59.
The loss was the first of the season for Butler who fell to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference (GWOC) American North division. Troy improves to 1-2 overall and in the GWOC North.
“They played harder than we did tonight and they were tougher than we were tonight,” said Butler head coach DJ Wyrick. “I was proud of how we fought back at the end.”
The Aviators held a slim 30-29 advantage at the intermission and appeared to be in command leading 47-39 heading into the final period. An 8-0 run to open the final quarter erased the lead, however, and began what proved to be a decisive 22-5 run that gave Troy a nine point cushion with just over a minute to play.
Butler mounted a comeback with a steal and layup by Tyler Burley with 1:06 left and another basket by Miles Joiner with 48 seconds left. Joiner led all scorers with 25 points and gathered eight rebounds.
Trey Sanders hit a three from the corner with 21.3 seconds left to trim the Trojans’ lead to two at 61-59.
Bryant Johnson got a steal and save near midcourt that set up Butler’s final opportunity to tie or win with 10.8 seconds left but both shots fell short of their mark.
Burley and Johnson added eight points each for the Aviators.
Butler will host league-leading Sidney (4-1, 3-0) on Tuesday.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.