VALPARAISO, Ind. - Strong defense, rebounding and a punishing inside game led the Butler men's basketball team to a 71-49 win over Milwaukee in the second round of the Horizon League Men's Basketball Championship. The No. 5 seed Bulldogs were led by sophomore Khyle Marshall with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Butler (20-13) advances to play regular season champ and No. 1 seed Valparaiso Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. ET. The game will be televised live on ESPNU.
With the win, Butler clinched its seventh consecutive 20-win season. That ties the school record set from 1997-03.
"I thought our guys were going to play hard and play together - and they did," head coach Brad Stevens said. "Once we started making some shots it all came together."
The Bulldogs crashed the glass and when outside shots weren't falling, then eventually worked inside to Marshall and freshman Roosevelt Jones was effective driving to the basket. Marshall finished with 8-for-13 shooting, which included four dunks and a flying put-back. Jones used his patented floater to finish with 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting.
The Bulldogs put on a clinic defensively for much of the first half. Milwaukee was limited to 30 percent shooting and just one offensive rebound. UWM didn't score until Kaylon Williams banked a trey at the 13:52 mark. Milwaukee scored its fourth point after 6:54 of basketball.
"That was, collectively, one of our best defensive efforts," senior Ronald Nored said. "We did a good job of taking away their tendencies and when we scored on offensive rebounds we were able to get back and set our defense."
The two teams kept it close and Butler got two dunks by Marshall to lead 22-18 at halftime.
Much like its first round win over Wright State earlier in the week, BU used a run just after halftime to take command of the game. The Bulldogs scored the first nine points of the second half to extend their lead to 31-18. That run set the tone for the rest of the second half. Leading 33-26, BU ripped off an 11- run over a 3:49 span to build a 44-28 lead.
Butler continued its defensive pressure and pulled away. BU's largest lead of the night was 69-44 on a deep 3-pointer by junior Chase Stigall. In all, the Bulldogs scored 49 points in the second half. Milwaukee had the same total over the whole game.
Milwaukee was led by James Haarsma with nine points and six rebounds. UWM finished its season 20-13 overall.