INDIANAPOLIS -- Butler was credited with eight assists against No. 1 Villanova Wednesday night. Bulldogs coach Chris Holtmann figures it should be one more for the crowd.
"It was an unbelievable environment," Holtmann said. "The loudest I ever heard HInkle (Fieldhouse) and it's gotten loud in my short time here. I think our guys fed off that."
The No. 18 Bulldogs put an end to defending national champion Villanova's 20-game winning streak with a 66-58 upset on Wednesday night. Fans predictably stormed the court following the Bulldogs' win, the team's first over a No. 1 team at Hinkle. It was Butler's first win over Villanova in seven conference meetings and eight overall meetings.
"It's unbelievable feeling to be part of history," Butler senior forward Andrew Chrabascz said.
Butler took the lead at 53-52 for good on Kethan Savage' layup with 2:59 to go. Butler expanded the lead to 58-52 on a three-point play by Savage.
In a crucial sequence, Kamar Baldwin missed a shot, he stole the ball from Villanova's Josh Hart and scored on layup to push Butler's lead to 60-54 with 55 seconds left.
"That was a phenomenal play by Kamar," Holtmann said.
After Villanova's Jalen Brunson scored, Baldwin hit two free throws with 33 seconds left to give Butler (13-2, 2-1 Big East) a 62-56 lead. Following two free throws by Villanova's Brunson, Tyler Lewis answered with two free throws with 23 seconds left to put Butler ahead 64-58. Wildcats' Donte DiVincenzo missed a 3 with 16 seconds to go, effectively sealing Butler's victory.
"Villanova is an unbelievable program and a terrific team," Holtmann said. "We have the utmost respect for how Villanova plays. "For us to stay with it and battle long enough to win says a lot about us too. Players win games and our players did that down the stretch."
Brunson was high for Villanova (14-1, 2-1 Big East) with 23 points. hitting 9 of 16 shots. Hart, senior guard, added 13 for the Wildcats on 3-of-11 shooting.
"They play tough defense and I just got to make the right play," Hart said. "I can't force shots. It stings right now, but we got to get back to work."
The Wildcats got just six points from their bench compared to 25 for Butler.
"I think you credit Butler's defense," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "They prevented us from getting those guys involved. They played very good team defense."
The Bulldogs shot 45.1 percent from the field, including 52 percent (13 of 25 shots) in the second half.
"It wasn't one of our best nights defensively," Wright said. "They run some great stuff. They all share the ball. They have great balance. They make extra passes. That broke down our defense a little bit."
Holtmann said it's always an ugly game against Villanova.
"Because they make it that way," said Holtmann, whose team held a 33-24 rebounding edge. "We felt if we could make it ugly on the defense end, we could win."
Savage and Chrabascz each scored 13 points for the Bulldogs. Savage hit 4 of 6 shots and all five free throws before fouling out late. Savage, a George Washington transfer, said he came to Butler for his final season for games like this.
"I've had some frustrations but to come out play this game with my brothers and teammates was special," Savage said. "I'm going to remember this night for the rest of my life."
Baldwin hit a short jumper at the buzzer to narrow the Bulldogs' halftime deficit to 31-27. Butler opened with a 9-4 run to take a 36-35 lead and the teams continued to trade the lead until the final minutes.
The Bulldogs committed four turnovers in the first four minutes and just one the rest of the opening half. After a slow start, the Bulldogs finally got going. Wright was called for a technical foul with 8:31 to go in the half and Savage sank both free throws to put Butler ahead 16-15. Villanova followed with the 5-0 spurt to take a 20-16 edge. After Butler tied it at 23-all, the two teams played evenly the rest of the half.
NOTES: Villanova won 38 of 41 games played in 2016, the most wins ever by a program in a single year according to cbssports.com. ... Villanova G Josh Hart averaged 23.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists in seven games in December. ... Butler is now 2-5 against No. 1 ranked teams, previously topping No. 1 Indiana in the 2012 Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis.