INDIANAPOLIS – Senior Susan Lester scored a season-high 18 points and the Bulldogs built a big first-half lead as the No. 2 seed Butler women’s basketball team defeated No. 7 seed Wright State, 70-57, Wednesday evening in the quarterfinal of the Speedway Horizon League Women’s Basketball Championship. The Bulldogs (22-8) advance to the tourney’s semifinals and will play No. 3 seed Detroit Friday evening.
The rest of the league tournament will be played at Green Bay, the regular season champion and No. 1 seed. Butler will play Detroit at 6:30 p.m. ET followed by Green Bay vs. No. 4 Cleveland State.
Senior Melanie Thornton had 13 points and nine rebounds while playing just 21 minutes. Sophomore Devin Brierly added 11 points and junior Brittany Bowen scored nine.
Brierly and Bowen each hit three 3-pointers for the red-hot Bulldogs, who started 9-for-12 from beyond the arc. BU, which shot .583 in the first half, led 25-16 when junior Alyssa Pittman hit a trey and Thornton scored inside to put the Dogs up 30-16. Butler continued to hit from the outside and built a 42-22 halftime lead.
“I thought we did a really good job offensively and had good ball movement,” head coach Beth Couture said. “We got a little stale for a while in the second half but I was proud of the girls for being able to finish and go back to what we want to do.”
BU led by 23 several different times in the second half before Wright State (11-19) gained ground. WSU had a 12-2 run that got the Raiders within 63-50 with 6:14 to go, but Thornton and Lester each hit a lay-up to put Butler ahead 67-50. Couture would soon empty her bench with a 70-53 lead.
WSU’s LaShawna Thomas had 22 points.
Butler finished a season-best 9-for-15 from 3-point range and had a 32-25 rebounding edge. The Bulldogs also shot 13-for-14 from the free throw line, another season best.
BU’s semifinal game vs. Detroit at Green Bay Friday evening can be found on the Horizon League Network. GameTracker will be available on ButlerSports.com.