WASHINGTON – Sometimes, a game-winning play is craftily designed and enacted with precision by each of the five players on the floor.

And sometimes the decisive basket is the result of an enormous amount of luck.

The play Butler used to beat Old Dominion 60-58 Thursday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament fell squarely into the latter category.

Afterward, the Bulldogs made no apologies, especially since their previous foray into the NCAA tournament ended when a last-second shot failed to fall.

Matt Howard’s tip-in at the buzzer carried the eighth-seeded Bulldogs past ODU and into the next round of the Southeast Regional. The play was not what Butler Coach Brad Stevens had in mind when he sent his team to the floor with the score tied and 32 seconds left.

Guard Shawn Vanzant was driving to the basket from the right side when he lost his footing and threw the ball toward the rim. Teammate Andrew Smith slapped the ball out of the air off the backboard, and Howard went up with his right hand and put the ball in from the left side an instant before time expired.

“We were fortunate to win,” Stevens said. “It didn’t look pretty and that’s not exactly the way you want it to end by any means, but they were in the right spots.”

A year ago, Butler’s magical run to the NCAA title game ended with a narrow miss from midcourt at the buzzer against Duke. In this game, the Bulldogs got the bounce they needed.

“A lot of credit has got to go to (Smith), who made a great play to keep it alive,” Howard said. “I tried to get it up as quickly as possible, and fortunately we had just enough time.”

Howard and Shelvin Mack each scored 15 points for Butler (24-9), which will play top-seeded Pittsburgh next. The Bulldogs have won 10 straight overall.

Frank Hassell led Old Dominion (27-7) with 20 points.

Hassell was in the lane during the final play, but couldn’t get his hand on the ball.

“Howard came across and got it and threw it in on me,” Hassell said. “Lucky bounce for a good player. I mean, you work hard, you get some of those.”

Butler found a way to win, although not exactly how Stevens drew it up.

“I had no doubt that we were going to win the game,” Howard said. “I didn’t think we were going to win it that way, but when you’ve been in those situations, been in those kind of battles and close games, you have confidence that you’re going to be able to pull it out.”