Butler Rallies Past League-Leading Milwaukee
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Junior Chase Stigall nailed his only three-point field goal of the game with less than a minute remaining to help lift Butler to a 54-50 win over league-leading Milwaukee at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday (Dec. 31). The win was Butler's third straight and lifted the Bulldogs to 8-7 on the year and 2-1 in Horizon League play.
Stigall, who had hit just three of his previous 20 three-point field goal attempts over a four-game span, stepped up and drilled the big shot with the score tied at 49-49 and 0:42 remaining. The Bulldogs then out-scored Milwaukee, 2-1, at the free throw line down the stretch to nail down the win.
The loss was the first in four league games for Milwaukee (10-5).
"Ron (Nored) gave me a good look and I was able to step into my shot," said Stigall of decisive basket. "When I let it go I knew that it had a good chance of going in."
Stigall wasn't the Bulldogs' only hero. Junior Andrew Smith scored nine of his 11 points in the final 12 minutes of the game, including a lay-up with 1:22 remaining to tie the game at 49-49.
"Andrew Smith hit two huge shots to get us going," said Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the game. "That's two games in a row where Andrew has made huge, kind of separation plays to give us a chance."
Freshman Kameron Woods came off the bench with four points, seven rebounds and a blocked shot. He hit two free throws with less than a second remaining to seal the victory.
Freshman Jackson Aldridge sparked Butler off the bench in both halves. He scored five points, including a big field goal with under five minutes remaining to bring the Bulldogs within a point at 46-45.
And sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins, who had scored just five points in Butler's previous four games, came off the bench to lead the Bulldogs with 12 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. He helped the Bulldogs erase a nine-point deficit in the first half with eight points and an assist on a 10-0 Butler run.
"He took very good shots. He got us going. We don't win the game without him," Stevens said of Hopkins. "I thought he was really good on both ends of the floor. He got his hands on some balls and came up with some steals. He was very active."
Butler rallied from the nine-point deficit, 14-5, in the first half and eventually took a 26-25 lead at halftime. It was the first time in the last 12 games against Division I foes that the Bulldogs led at halftime.
The lead was short-lived. Milwaukee opened the second half on a 13-2 run to take a 10-point lead, 38-28. The Bulldogs battled back again, with Smith (left) igniting a 7-0 run with a lay-up and a three-point field goal. Butler eventually regained the lead at 43-42 on a lay-up by freshman Roosevelt Jones with 6:13 left.
The teams traded leads twice down the stretch, before Smith's jumper tied the game at 49-49.
Kaylon Williams led the Panthers with 12 points, while Ryan Allen finished with 11 and James Haarsma added 10.
Butler's three-game winning streak is the team's longest of the season. The Bulldogs have won four of their last five outings overall.
Butler will begin the new year with a game at Wright State on Friday, Jan. 6. That contest at the Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio, will start at 7 p.m. (ET).