"I loved the resiliency of our guys," first-year Butler coach Brandon Miller said in a release. "The toughness in our guys in order to come back in that game."
Seton Hall (16-16) took advantage of Butler's cold shooting and built a 13-point lead with less than 10 minutes remaining. But the Bulldogs didn't quit.
Senior forward Khyle Marshall fueled an 18-6 Bulldog run by scoring six points and closed the margin to a 51-50 with less than a minute to go.
Butler had an opportunity to take the lead with 13 seconds left, but a turnover stopped the bid.
The Bulldogs fouled Seton Hall's Brandon Mobley with four seconds left, and Mobley missed the free throw to give Butler one final chance. That opportunity ended when a half-court shot by junior Alex Barlow bounced off the backboard.
"There were multiple times we could have easily given up and laid down, but we didn't," Miller said. "We fought, but like I told our guys, there are some nights that are just not your night."
That fact that the Bulldogs had a chance to win the game at the end was a testament to their resolve and their defensive effort.
Despite shooting 35.7 percent from the field and 9.1 percent from beyond the three-point arc in the first 20 minutes, Butler trailed just 23-22.
Butler's leading scorer, sophomore guard Kellen Dunham, who tallied 29 points against Seton Hall four days ago, was 0 for 3 from the field in the first half. Barlow, who was averaging 10.7 points over Butler's previous seven games, was 0 for 7.
"They struggled tonight," Miller said of his two guards. "Seton Hall did a good job of staying on Kellen and knew where he was at all times. (Dunham) did a pretty good job of moving without the ball, but at the same time they had an awareness of where he was.
"Alex has played as well as he has in his entire career of the last few games, and he just didn't make shots tonight. He had some looks, but they just didn't go in."
A continued cold spell early in the second half allowed Seton Hall to take a double-digit lead. The margin grew to 45-32 with 9:45 remaining.
Marshall closed his career in strong fashion and was nearly unstoppable for the Bulldogs.
He hit 10 of 15 shots in the game and finished with 22 points. He also pulled down seven rebounds, including five offensive boards, and added two blocked shots and a steal. But he was the only Butler player to score in double figures.
Junior forward Kameron Woods added seven points and a game-high 12 rebounds, while freshman forward Andrew Chrabascz chipped in with seven points.
Eugene Teague was dominant inside and led the Pirates with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Brian Oliver and Fuquan Edwin added 10 points apiece.
The game was the third meeting this season between the two teams, and Butler won the first two.Barlow was recognized by the Big East Conference prior to the Bulldogs' game with the Pirates on Wednesday, as he was named as the league's Men's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Also honored were Creighton senior forward Doug McDermott (Player of the Year), DePaul freshman Billy Garrett Jr. (Rookie of the Year) and Villanova coach Jay Wright (Coach of the Year).
Barlow is an honor student majoring in finance and has started all 30 Butler games this season. The junior point guard leads the Bulldogs in both assists and steals and ranks second in the conference in assist-turnover ratio and in steals
He stands sixth in the conference in three-point shooting and entered the conference tournament with a career-best 6.7 points per game average.
The Springboro, Ohio, native was named to the Capital One Academic All-District V team earlier this year, and he was recently honored on the Butler Athletic Director's Honor Roll. He originally earned his spot on Butler's roster as a walk-on but has been on scholarship each of the past two seasons.