Butler Rolls Past Northwestern, 67-54

Shelvin Mack scored a team-high 15 points and added eight assists and Gordon Hayward chipped in with 14 points and 10 rebounds to help lead visiting Butler to a 67-54 victory over Northwestern in a non-league test at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Wednesday (Nov. 18).  It was the second straight win for the No. 10/11 ranked Bulldogs to open the season.

The Bulldogs, who held a 30-24 lead at halftime, opened up a double-figures lead less than four minutes into the second half and stretched the margin to 21 points, 57-36, on a break-away dunk by Hayward with just over six minutes remaining.  Northwestern never got closer than 11 points in the final 15 minutes.

“I was very, very pleased with our guys,” said Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the game.  “You have to have a focus of winning one possession at a time, and for the most part I thought that was our approach throughout the entire night.”

“I felt great about our effort,” added the Butler coach.

Mack had five points at halftime, and he added five more in a 46 seconds stretch early in the second half to give the Bulldogs a 41-26 advantage.  Mack’s two field goals were part of a 12-0 run that gave the Bulldogs firm control of the contest.  Hayward capped the run with a three-point field goal to give Butler a 44-26 advantage.

Butler took the lead for good against the Wildcats (1-1) at 19-17 on a field goal by Garrett Butcher with just over eight minutes remaining in the first half.  That margin stretched to eight points, 27-19, on a three-point field goal by Zach Hahn with 3:48 left in the half.  Hahn came off the bench and hit three of four three-point field goals in the first 20 minutes.

Hahn finished the game with 13 points, while Avery Jukes came off the bench with 10 points.  Hayward recorded his fourth career double-double, and he matched his career-high with four assists.  Mack also matched his career-high for assists.

Michael Thompson led the Wildcats with 16 points, while John Shurna added 14 points and nine rebounds.  Shurna was a teammate of Mack and Hayward last summer on the gold-medal winning USA U19 World Championship team.

Butler won’t have much time to enjoy the victory at Northwestern.  The Bulldogs will visit state foe Evansville for a non-league game on Saturday, Nov. 21.