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Hayward’s heave rims out as Duke captures NCAA basketball title

Duke players dogpile on top of Dukes Kyle Singler (12) after Dukes 61-59 victory over Butler in the NCAA Final Four championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, Monday, April 5, 2010. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT)
Ethan Hyman
Duke players dogpile on top of Duke’s Kyle Singler (12) after Duke’s 61-59 victory over Butler in the NCAA Final Four championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, Monday, April 5, 2010. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT)

INDIANAPOLISButler had the adorable Bulldog mascot, the type-casted good-guy players and a Hollywood script three-fourths written.

But the NCAA championship game isn’t a movie and sometimes the quarterback gets the girl, the rich guy wins the lottery and Duke wins.

WhenGordon Hayward’shalf-court heave hit the rim and bounced off, the Blue Devils avoided an epic upset by beating Butler, 61-59, on Monday night in the NCAA championship game in Lucas Oil Stadium for its fourth national title.

While Duke has celebrated under reigning confetti before, don’t think that this one didn’t mean something. Yes, they were favored, but few thought Duke would live to see the title day.

Many didn’t even think the Blue Devils deserved a No. 1 seed.

But there they stood as victors, ending the storybook tale that Butler had captivated basketball fans everywhere with throughout the tournament.

After starting 1 of 9, Butler fell behind 6-1. But the Bulldogs never panicked, sticking to their trademark I-dare-you-to-shoot defense and finding some unlikely heroes to emerge along the way.

Gordon Haywardled Butler with 12 points and eight rebounds but shot just 2-for-11.Avery Jukesfilled in soundly for 6-9Matt Howardoff the bench with 10 first-half points, but both suffered foul trouble. Howard started after suffering a mild concussion in Saturday night’s victory against Michigan State.

Howard was crucial in the end. Down 60-55 with 3:16 remaining, he scored consecutively for Butler, coming up with a rebound and putback to cut it to one with 49.4 seconds left.

A three-pointer by Duke’sKyle Singlermissed and the ball went out off ofBrian Zoubekwith 33.7 seconds left.

After Butler worked the ball around, it was deflected out of bounds by Duke with 13 seconds left.

Howard inbounded to Hayward, who went up for a fadeaway jumper that hit off the rim with about 7 seconds left. Duke’sBrian Zoubekcorralled his game-high 11th rebound and was fouled with 3.6 seconds remaining.

He made the first and missed the second before Hayward’s heave bounced off the rim at the buzzer.

Duke’s big three showed up big as always. Singler,Jon ScheyerandNolan Smith, who have made up the bulk of Duke’s scoring all season, each scored in double figures.

Jon Scheyerplayed in his final game for the Blue Devils, scoring 15.

Singler led the Blue Devils with 19 on 7-of-13 shooting and added nine rebounds.

Butler’s players always talk about team effort and they needed it more than ever on Monday night.

Hayward, the team’s best known and most talented offensive player, started out shooting just 2 of 7 in the first half and attempted only one shot in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

He received some more encouragement from the already pro-Butler crowd, in the Bulldogs’ hometown. He was fouled hard under the basket by Duke’sLance Thomaswith 5:07 remaining and connected on both free throws to cut Duke’s five-point lead to 56-55.

Much like it did in its victory against Michigan State, Butler went a long stretch without making a field goal in the second half.

Earlier, Duke used a 7-0 run to build a 26-20 lead with 5:08 remaining in the first half after Butler had built a 20-18 lead.

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