Feb. 16, 2006
Senior Brandon Polk scored a game-high 21 points and the Bulldogs turned in a strong second half defensive performance to turn back visiting Loyola, 62-50, in a Horizon League game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Thursday, Feb. 16. The victory moved the Bulldogs to within one-half game of first place in the league with a 10-4 record and lifted Butler to 17-9 overall. Loyola slipped to 14-10 on the year and 6-8 in league action.
Polk scored 13 points in the second half to help the Bulldogs stretch a 35-28 halftime lead to as many as 14 points in the closing minutes. He hit eight of 11 shots in the game and all five of his free throw attempts, while pulling down eight rebounds and sparking Butler's defense with three blocked shots.
Defense was Butler's savior against a Loyola squad that had beaten the Bulldogs by 10 points earlier this season. The Bulldogs limited Loyola to 22 points on 39% shooting over the final 20 minutes. The Ramblers were held scoreless for an eight-minute stretch midway through the final period.
"I guess if you're going to be successful, you have to win different ways. I thought we struggled offensively, and I give the credit to (Loyola). They're long and athletic and well-coached, and it's difficult to play against them," said Butler head coach Todd Lickliter. "But I thought we defended extremely well. To hold (Loyola) to 50 points is quite an accomplishment. And we rebounded the basketball."
The Bulldogs finished with a 36-23 rebounding advantage for the game. In addition to Polk, junior Brian Ligon came off the bench with a career-high eight rebounds and junior Brandon Crone added six. Butler had 11 offensive rebounds in the game.
Ligon broke a 16-16 tie with a lay-up eight minutes into the game, and the Bulldogs held the lead for the rest of the contest. Butler stretched its advantage to seven points by halftime behind ten first-half points by senior guard Avery Sheets.
The Bulldogs kept the margin between six and nine points for the first 11 minutes of the second half and then Polk gave Butler a 47-37 lead with a lay-up at 9:04. Butler a double-figures advantage for must of the final nine minutes.
Senior Bruce Horan, who nailed four three-point field goals in the game, finished with 12 points. He stretched his streak of consecutive games with a three-point field goal to 73 in a row, matching the second longest streak in NCAA Division I history. Sheets finished with 10 points.
Blake Schilb led Loyola with 11 points, while Majak Kou added 10.
Butler will step out of league play to participate in the Bracket Busters presented by Ebay series on Saturday, Feb. 18. The Bulldogs will visit Kent State for a 12:30 p.m. (EST) contest that will be televised nationally on ESPNU.