Nov. 15, 2005
Senior Avery Sheets and sophomore A. J. Graves each scored a game-high 14 points and Butler turned a strong defensive performance into a 66-41 victory over Lehigh in the fifth place game at the BCA Invitational in Laramie, Wyoming, on Tuesday, Nov. 15. The victory was Butler's second straight in the tournament and lifted the Bulldogs to 2-1 on the season, while Lehigh fell to 1-2.
Senior Bruce Horan nailed a three-point field goal two minutes into the game to ignite a 13-2 opening run for the Bulldogs, and Butler was never headed. The Bulldogs stretched the lead to 19 points, 29-10, on a lay-up by junior Brandon Crone and carried a 29-12 lead to the locker room at halftime.
Key to Butler's first half run was a rock-solid defensive performance. The Bulldogs harassed Lehigh into 25% shooting in the opening 20 minutes, including an 0-7 performance from beyond the three-point arc! Butler scored 14 points off of nine Lehigh turnovers.
"I liked our effort today," said Butler head coach Todd Lickliter after the contest. "We're trying to defend as a team, to contain the ball and contest shots. I thought we played pretty solid team defensive today."
The Bulldogs didn't ease up in the final 20 minutes. With Sheets, Graves and Horan continuing to snipe from the outside and senior Brandon Polk picking up the scoring pace inside, Butler built its margin to as many as 30 points, 61-31. All nine Butler players wound up seeing action and eight cracked the scoring column.
Graves scored nine of his 14 points in the first half, while Sheets had eight of his 14 in the second half. Polk, who scored 53 points in the three tournament games, and Horan each finished with 11 points. Crone chipped in with eight points, a career-high five assists and a career-high four steals.
The Bulldogs, who committed 15 turnovers in an opening-round loss to UNC Wilmington, had just four turnovers against Lehigh.
"I told our guys that in athletics there's two situations that you have to respond to - adversity and prosperity. On the first night (of the tournament), we really struggled. We didn't like that and we had to respond. (Against Alabama State) we played better and now we had a little bit of prosperity, and we had to see how we would respond. This is something this tournament has given us, and I thought we responded well. The only challenge that matters is the one at hand and I'm really pleased with the way we came back," added Lickliter.
Butler will have a week off before returning to action with back-to-back games against Big Ten foes. The Bulldogs will visit Ohio State and former head coach Thad Matta on Tuesday, Nov. 22, before taking on Michigan in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Nov. 26.