Kamar Baldwin scored 19 points, and Sean McDermott canned two free throws with 25 seconds to play as Butler roared from behind in the second half to beat Florida 61-54 on Friday to take fifth place at the Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas.
Butler trailed by five at halftime but tied the game at 34 on a layup by Paul Jorgensen just 2:12 into the second half. The Bulldogs moved to the lead for good on 3-pointer by Baldwin with 10:40 to play and expanded their lead to eight points, at 54-46, on a free throw by Nate Fowler with 5:41 remaining.
Florida drew to within 56-52 with 1:02 to play despite not scoring from the floor for 3:13 and missing nine of 11 field goals. Butler couldn’t put away the Gators because it struggled to score as well, going 4:01 without a point.
McDermott’s two late free throws pushed the contest to a six-point game with 25 seconds to go and allowed the Bulldogs to hold on.
Paul Jorgensen added 16 points and seven rebounds for the Bulldogs (5-1), who lost to Dayton in the first round of this event before beating Middle Tennessee.
Andrew Nembhard and Deaundrae Ballard led Florida with 11 points each in the loss. The Gators (3-3) fell in the opening round to Oklahoma and then beat Stanford to earn a spot in Friday’s losers bracket championship.
After back-and-forth play over the first 11 minutes, Butler led 21-15 with 8:09 to play in the first half. But the Gators surged back, scoring 14 of the game’s next 16 points to flip the lead, taking a 29-23 advantage at the 1:47 mark. Florida settled with a 32-27 cushion at intermission after Baldwin canned a jumper at the halftime buzzer.
Nembhard led all scorers in the first half with 11 points, while Baldwin paced a balanced Butler attack with six points over the first 20 minutes.
The Gators return to the court on Tuesday when they host North Florida, while Butler has a week’s break before playing at Saint Louis on Dec. 1.
—Field Level Media