Butler Holds Off Loyola, 63-57

VIDEO COVERAGE
Highlights  |  Postgame

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins (right) led four teammates in double-figures and hit one of the game's biggest shots in the closing minutes to help lift Butler to a 63-57 victory over Loyola at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Tuesday, Feb. 14.  The victory lifted Butler into sole possession of third place in the Horizon League.

Hopkins, who scored a team-high 13 points, hit just one field goal in the second half, but it was big one.  With 2:19 on the clock, the Bulldogs clinging to a two-point lead, 51-49, and the shot clock running down, Hopkins pulled up from beyond the three-point arc on the left side and drained a shot that gave Butler a five-point advantage.  Loyola never got closer in the final two minutes.

"I had hit one earlier and my shooting form was feeling good," Hopkins said of his key three-pointer.  "There was five seconds left (on the shot clock) and I knew I had to get a shot off.  I'm comfortable with shooting a dribble, pull-up.  It felt good and it went in."

Sophomore Khyle Marshall (below) followed with a layup off a nifty pass from senior Ronald Nored to stretch Butler's margin to seven, 56-49, and the Bulldogs held off Loyola by hitting seven of 10 free throws in the final minute.

Loyola (6-19, 1-14 HL) recovered from a 13-point deficit late in the first half to challenge the Bulldogs down the stretch.  The Ramblers scored the final six points of the first half to cut Butler's halftime margin to 36-29, and then out-scored the Bulldogs, 15-8, in the first 12 minutes of the final period to tie the game at 44-44.

The Ramblers had one chance to take the lead after the game was tied, but Chim Kadima missed a jumper.  Butler didn't stretch the margin past five points, until Marshall's layup with 1:48 left.  

"I told our guys in the locker room, it's hard to win a basketball game.  And you always need to remember that, and you always need to understand that.  And you always need to come into the game thinking that," said Butler coach Brad Stevens after the game.  

"I thought we played pretty well at the opening tip.  I thought the 6-0 run at the end of the first half really hurt us, at least gave them life.  And then I thought we were too passive the first 10 minutes of the second half.  Other than that, I thought we played okay."

Butler, coming off back-to-back road wins at Youngstown State and Cleveland State, jumped in front, 8-4, in the first four minutes, and then took temporary control behind a 12-4 run in a five-minute stretch late in the first period.  Hopkins started the run with a three-point field goal and junior Andrew Smith ended it with a three-pointer to give Butler a 36-23 advantage.

Marshall and Smith each added 12 points to the Butler attack, while sophomore Erik Fromm finished with 10.  Nored matched his career-high with nine assists in the game.  Loyola's Ben Averkamp led all scorers with 23 points.

The Bulldogs, who shot 52.5% (21-40) in the game, including 41.7% (5-12) from beyond the three-point arc, improved to 16-12 on the season and 10-6 in league play.  It's the seventh consecutive year that Butler has won at least 10 Horizon League games, a league record.  The Bulldogs ended the evening one-half game ahead of Detroit (9-6) in the league standings.

Butler will step out of league play on Saturday, Feb. 18, to host Indiana State in Sears BracketBuster X.  That game at Hinkle Fieldhouse will start at 2 p.m. (ET) and will be televised on WNDY-TV.