Butler Falls to Eastern Washington in Fiesta Bowl Classic, 67-62

Dec. 30, 2004

By MEL REISNER
AP Sports Writer

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Marc Axton had two three-point plays in a 41-second span late in the game, and Eastern Washington snapped a seven-game losing streak by beating Butler 67-62 Thursday night in the consolation game of the Fiesta Bowl Classic.

Richmond, which beat Butler by a point on Tuesday, and Arizona played later for the tournament championship.

Axton, who finished with 25 points, muscled in a layup and was fouled with 3:30 to go. That sent the Eagles ahead 57-54 just 45 seconds after Jake Beitinger's 10-foot turnaround gave them a 55-54 lead with the seventh and last lead change of the second half.

Axton had his second three-point play with 2:49 to go for a 61-55 lead.

He added two free throws with 20 seconds left for Eastern Washington's final points.

Beitinger had 13 points and Kenny Smith 11 for the Eagles (3-9).

Butler (5-5) got 15 points from A.J. Graves and 13 from Jamie Smalligan, but still earned its first losing record in a regular-season tournament game under fourth-year coach Todd Lickliter.

Smith had all of his points in the second half, leading a burst that brought the Eagles back from a seven-point deficit.

Axton scored 10 points in the first 7:27 of the game, taking the Eagles to a 19-10 lead with a 3-pointer that capped a 14-3 run.

But Brandon Crone had eight points as Butler rallied, and Graves tied it at 24 with a 16-foot jumper with 4:40 left in the first half.

The Bulldogs outscored Eastern Washington 28-12 after falling behind by nine points, and went ahead 38-31 on Graves' 3-pointer with 17:01 left in the game.