November 24, 2010

Bench Lifts Butler To 70-57 Win At Siena

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Senior Matt Howard posted his second consecutive double-double and Butler picked up a big lift from the bench in a 70-57 victory over Siena in a non-league game at Times Union Center on Tuesday, Nov. 23.  It was Butler’s second straight win and lifted the Bulldogs to 3-1 on the young season.

Howard, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds in a victory over Ball State on Saturday (Nov. 20), continued his strong play against the Siena.  He scored a team-high 17 points, including a pair of three-point field goals, and he led the Bulldogs with 12 rebounds.  The 6-8 forward also topped Butler with four steals and he added a pair of assists.

But the big story for the Bulldogs was the play of Butler’s reserves.  With starting point-guard Ronald Nored leaving the game following a collision just a minute into the contest and leading scorer Shelvin Mack limited to just six points through the first 38 minutes, Butler head coach Brad Stevens had to turn to his bench.

The Butler reserves delivered.

Junior Shawn Vanzant, who replaced Nored, scored 12 points, while sophomore Chase Stigall came off the bench and hit three three-point field goals and finished with a career-high nine points.  Sophomore Andrew Smith added eight points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench, and junior Garrett Butcher chipped in with six points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes.

“I thought the key to the game was maintaining some poise through a rough stretch at the beginning of the game, and ultimately it was our bench play that was awesome,” said Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the game.  “In the first half we got 18 points and a bunch of rebounds off the bench, and the guys came in a did their job defensively.  I was really pleased with the lift they gave us.”

The Bulldogs needed a lift early.  Nored, a starting point-guard in Butler’s last 38 games, collided with Siena’s Rakeem Brookins less than a minute into the game and had to be helped off the floor.  His status for Butler’s game against Evansville on Saturday (Nov. 27) is unknown.

While the Bulldogs adjusted to the early change, Siena (1-3) jumped out to a 6-0 lead.  The Saints, who had lost just once in their previous 39 games at Times Union Arena, stretched the lead to eight, 13-5, before Butler began to battle back.  Behind the solid inside play of Smith and Butcher, the Bulldogs came back to tie the game at 19-19 with eight minutes remaining in the first half.

Vanzant then gave Butler its first lead, 21-19, with a jump shot at 7:27.  The Bulldogs stretched the lead to 37-29 by halftime.

Siena, aided by several Butler turnovers, made a run early in the second half and closed to within three points at 44-41 with 16 minutes left, but the Bulldogs responded with a 10-2 run, including three-point field goals by Howard and Stigall, to regain control.  Butler led by as many as 14 points last in the game, before settling for the 13-point win.

Butler finished with a commanding 38-5 advantage in bench-scoring, and the Bulldogs out-rebounded Siena, 39-31.  Mack, who entered the game averaging 21.3 points, finished with nine, but led the Bulldogs with four assists.

Ryan Rossiter led Siena with 26 points and 15 rebounds.  The game was a rematch of last year’s feature BracketBusters contest, won by the Bulldogs at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Butler will take a short Thanksgiving break before hosting Evansville.  That game at Hinkle Fieldhouse will start at 2 p.m.