Polk, Horan Lead Butler Past IPFW, 73-39
Dec. 18, 2004
Juniors Brandon Polk and Bruce Horan each scored 15 points and helped the Bulldogs to a season-best .522 shooting performance while leading Butler to a 73-39 victory over visiting IPFW in a non-league game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday (Dec. 18). The win snapped Butler's three-game losing skid and lifted the Bulldogs to 4-3 on the year, while IPFW fell to 3-7.
Polk hit six of eight shots and matched his career-high with the 15 points. He scored 13 in the first half to help the Bulldogs pull away to a 34-20 halftime lead. Horan nailed five of seven shots, all from beyond the three-point arc. He scored nine of his points in the final 20 minutes.
"We've had a tough couple of weeks and you really get your character tested," stated head coach Todd Lickliter after the game. "I thought today we showed that there is strength in team and we're going to do something about what's been going on. Granted the (losses) were on the road and this was home. But you don't play everything on the road; you do play at home sometimes."
The Bulldogs, who had an entire week off for final exams, struggled to find their shooting touch early in the game and fell behind, 11-5. That's when Lickliter inserted Polk into the game, and the 6-6 forward responded by leading the Bulldogs on a 17-0 scoring run. Polk started the run with a layup and later tied the game at 11-11 with another layup. He then gave Butler the lead for good at 13-11 with a short jumper.
"Brandon created a post presence for us. We got him the ball and he shot it very comfortably today. That's the way Brandon should play. That's just the way he should play all of the time," said Lickliter. "Maybe that's a lot to ask, but I don't think so. He's got a great touch and he's got good post moves. He went in there and went right to his strength."
Butler led by as many as 17 points in the first half, and the Mastodons never got closer than 12 points in the final 20 minutes. All 11 available Butler players saw action, with only junior point-guard Avery Sheets playing more than 30 minutes. Sheets finished 10 points and a game-high seven assists. Ten of Butler's 11 players cracked the scoring column.
The Bulldogs wound up hitting 24 of 46 shots in the game, including 11 of 20 (.550) in the second half. Butler cashed 11 of 25 (.440) attempts from beyond the three-point arc. And perhaps more significantly, the Bulldogs out-rebounded IPFW, 35-24, behind a career-high seven rebounds from sophomore Nick Brooks. Butler had been out-rebounded, 80-40, in its previous two games.
The Bulldogs will play their final pre-Christmas game at home against Ball State on Wednesday, Dec. 22. That contest between the two Central Indiana rivals is slated for 7 p.m. (EST) in Hinkle Fieldhouse.