Bulldogs Slip Past Evansville
Sophomore Shelvin Mack led four players in
double-figures with 17 points and visiting Butler held off a late
Evansville charge to post a 64-60 non-league victory at Roberts
Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 21. It was the third straight
victory to open the season for the No. 10/11 ranked Bulldogs.
Butler, 3-0 for the fourth consecutive year, had to weather a rally by the Purple Aces in the final minute. After junior Matt Howard hit a free throw to give Butler a 56-46 lead with 1:11 left, Evansville went on a 14-8 run that had the home crowd of 6,913 thinking upset.
Freshman Colt Ryan started the run with a three-point field goal, and then he answered a pair of free throws by Butler’s Zach Hahn with a convention three-point play to cut the Bulldogs’ margin to six, 58-52. Sophomore Gordon Hayward cashed four free throws around a basket by Evansville’s Bryan Bouchie to keep the Bulldogs on top by eight points with 0:25 left.
But Ryan struck like lightning, hitting two three-point field goals in a span of four seconds and suddenly Evansville (2-1) trailed by just two points, 62-60 with 0:17 remaining!
Mack hit one of two free throws with 0:14 left, and after Ryan missed a three-pointer, Hayward cashed one of two free throws for the final margin.
On a night when their shots weren’t falling with any degree of frequency, the Bulldogs relied on their trademark defense to maintain control throughout most of the contest. Butler, behind Mack’s 10 points, built a 27-20 halftime lead, despite shooting just 26% (8-31) from the field. Evansville didn’t shoot much better, hitting just six of 21 attempts (28.6%).
The Bulldogs edged out to a double-figures lead midway through the second half and stretched the margin to as many as 13 points on two occasions in the final five minutes. Mack’s lay-up with 2:42 remaining made it 55-42 for Butler's final 13-point lead.
Mack led the Bulldogs in scoring for the second consecutive game, while Hayward chipped in with 15 points. Senior Willie Veasley, who had a pair of big three-point field goals in the second half, finished with 11 points, and Howard added 10 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out in the final minute.
Butler shot just 28% (14-50) for the game and just 27.8% (5-18) from the three-point arc.
Ryan led the Aces with 17 points, while teammate James Haarsma added 11.
The Bulldogs will continue their stretch of games away from Hinkle Fieldhouse with a trip to California for three games in the 76 Classic in Anaheim. Butler will open play in the eight-team tournament against Minnesota on Thanksgiving Day.