February 9, 2012

Butler Stifles Penguins In 68-59 Road Win

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO -- Sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins scored 19 points, freshman Jackson Aldridge added 15 and Butler shut down the Horizon League's top three-point field goal attack to post a 68-59 victory over host Youngstown State at the Beeghly Center on Thursday, Feb. 9.  The win lifted the Bulldogs into a tie for fourth place in the league standings.

Hopkins scored 13 points in the second half to help the Bulldogs hold off a comeback attempt by the host Penguins.  He scored nine of the 12 points in a 12-4 run by the Bulldogs after Youngstown State had cut a one-time 14-point Butler lead to 47-43 with 8:28 remaining.  The 19 total points was his most since late November, when he scored 19 in Butler's game at Indiana.

Aldridge helped the Bulldogs to a strong start with 10 first-half points, and his final total matched his career-high.  He finished with a career-best three three-point field goals, while helping Butler out-score the league's top three-point field goal shooting team, 15-9, from long-range.

The Bulldogs (14-12, 8-6 HL) had a 36-32 edge in points-in-the-paint, a 7-1 advantage in second-chance points and a 19-7 margin in bench scoring.  Butler, paced by senior point-guard Ronald Nored, also had a commanding advantage in rebounds, 42-29.  Nored finished with a career-high 11 rebounds, eight points and six assists.

"We attacked the paint," said Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the game.  "Hop was very good at doing that all night.  Jackson was very good off the bench doing that.  Anytime those two combine for 34 points, it's a good night for us."

Butler broke a 13-13 tie with a 6-0 run on basketball by Aldridge, sophomore Erik Fromm and freshman Roosevelt Jones, and the Bulldogs remained on top for the rest of the game.  The Bulldogs limited the host squad to a single field goal in the final four minutes of the first half, while building a 35-25 halftime lead.

"I thought our defensive effort in the first half was really good," stated Stevens.  "It kept us around as we were struggling to score there early."

Butler opened the second half with back-to-back baskets by junior Andrew Smith and Jones to stretch the margin to 14, but the Penguins, fueled by sophomore Kendrick Perry, quickly erased that big lead with a 10-0 run.  But four points was a close as the host squad would come.

The Bulldogs limited Youngstown State, averaging better than nine three-point field goals per game coming into the contest, to just three long-range baskets.  The Penguins shot just 17.6% (3-17) from beyond the arc for the game, something that Stevens noted.

"We had to get out on their three-point shooters.  We had to guard those guys as hard as possible," said Stevens.  "(Ashen) Ward got two open looks, but I'm not sure anyone else got an open look that I can remember."

Jones joined Hopkins and Aldridge in double-figures with 11 points, and he added nine rebounds.  Perry led all scorers with 23 points.

The outcome left Butler in a tie with Youngstown State (13-11) for fourth place in the league standings, a half game behind Milwaukee in third place.  Valparaiso took over first place with a victory at previous league-leader Cleveland State.

The Bulldogs will wrap-up their two-game Ohio swing on Saturday with a nationally-televised (ESPN2) game at Cleveland State.  That game at the Wolstein Center will start at 11 a.m. (ET).