January 28, 2012

Second Half Sinks Bulldogs

GREEN BAY, WIS. -- Host Green Bay hit nearly 60% of its shots in the second half and turned a one-point halftime advantage into a 12-point victory over Butler, 80-68, at the Resch Center on Saturday (Jan. 28).  The outcome left the Bulldogs winless on their two-game trip to Wisconsin.

The Phoenix, 9-1 at the Resch Center this season, hit 13 of 22 shots in the final 20 minutes, including four of six from beyond the three-point arc.  The host squad also connected on 17 of 22 second half free throw attempts to pile up a 25-12 advantage at the charity stripe for the game.

"(Green Bay) shot the ball really well from the perimeter and they dominated the interior, and that's a bad combination obviously," said Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the game.  "We lost because we didn't defend them well enough."

The Bulldogs (12-11, 6-5 Horizon League) did defend in the first half, holding Green Bay to 39% shooting from the field and 38% from the three-point line.  But the Phoenix (9-12, 5-6 HL) used a 7-2 run in the final 2:19 of the half to take a 33-32 halftime lead.

Guard Ken Cerroni started the Green Bay run with a three-point field goal to cut Butler's four-point lead to 30-29, and then following a jump shot by sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins, the Phoenix scored four straight points, two each by 7-1 center Alec Brown and point-guard Keifer Sykes, for the halftime score.

The Bulldogs battled back to tie the game five times in the second half, with the last coming at 53-53 on a tip-in by sophomore Erik Fromm with 6:52 remaining.  Forward Brennan Cougill broke that tie with a three-point field goal, and the Phoenix increased the lead down the stretch.  Butler was down six points, 66-60, with two-and-a-half minutes remaining, but Green Bay closed on a 14-8 run for the final margin.

Butler shot 54% in the first half and grabbed the lead late in the period behind the strong performance of Jones.  The 6-4 forward hit seven of eight shots in the opening period and led all scorers with 14 points.  Green Bay managed to keep pace, thanks in part to an 8-0 advantage at the free throw line.

The Bulldogs hit just 11 of 31 (.355) shots in the final period.

Freshman Roosevelt Jones matched his career-high and led the Bulldogs with 16 points, while senior Ronald Nored (right) added 13.  Hopkins and Fromm came off the bench with 10 points apiece.  Cougill led all scorers with 21 points, while Brown added 19.  Sykes chipped in with 14 points and six assists.

"I think (the Phoenix) have gotten a lot better from the first time we played them," added Stevens.  "I think Sykes is one of the best point-guards in the league, and I think Brown and Cougill, when they play the way they played tonight, are certainly a heck of tandem on the interior."

The game at Green Bay closed out a four-game road stretch for the Bulldogs.  Butler returns home for a pair of games, beginning with a league test against Wright State on Thursday, Feb. 2.  That game at Hinkle Fieldhouse is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET).