December 2, 2009

Bulldogs Cruise Past Ball State, 59-38

Sophomores Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack each scored 15 points and junior Matt Howard added 11 to lead visiting Butler to a 59-38 victory over Ball State at Worthen Arena in Muncie on Wednesday (Dec. 2).  The victory lifted the Bulldogs to 5-2 on the young season.

Butler, coming off a three-game trip to California and a one-point loss to #19 Clemson, left little doubt in the state rivalry game.  Mack hit the first of his four three-point field goals to give the Bulldogs a 3-2 advantage and spark a 16-2 run that put Butler in front for good.

“I thought we emphasized what we wanted to do with just one day prep coming off a long trip. We wanted to come up and guard as well as we could, and I thought our guys bought in and did a nice job of that tonight,” stated Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the game.

Butler’s defense was so good that Ball State managed just two field goals in the first 10 minutes and just four for the entire half.  The Cardinals (2-3) shot just 19% in the first half and didn’t reach double-figures just six minutes remained in the half.

The Bulldogs stretched their lead to as many as 19 points in the initial stanza and led by 18, 29-11, at halftime.

Not much changed in the second half.  Butler maintained its margin and stretched the lead to as many as 23 points late in the game.  Stevens was able to use his entire bench, playing 15 players for the first time this season.

“Our guys really embraced the challenge of seeing what we could do each half,” added Stevens.  “Sometimes shots don’t fall for them and that may have been the case in the first half, but I did think we had a nice presence around the basketball tonight, really for a majority of the night.”

Mack and Hayward combined for 23 of Butler’s 29 first half points.  Howard scored 10 of his 11 points after intermission.  Hayward added a game-high eight rebounds, helping the Bulldogs to a 32-25 advantage on the boards.

Malik Perry led Ball State with 11 points.

Butler will return to Indianapolis to play it first home game since Nov. 14 when it hosts Horizon League foe Valparaiso on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 7 p.m.