GREEN BAY, Wis. – Butler’s NCAA Tournament dreams fell just short Sunday, as Bulldog women’s basketball fell to Cleveland State, 66-57, at Green Bay. Junior Alyssa Pittman had 18 points for Butler, who now awaits its postseason fate. Butler fell to 23-9 with the loss.
Seniors Melanie Thornton and Susan Lester were named to the all-tournament team. Thornton had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Lester had 10 points and eight boards. Lester had 20 in Friday’s semifinal.
“It’s a disappointing loss but you have to give Cleveland State all the credit,” head coach Beth Couture said.
Cleveland State (19-13), the tourney’s No. 4 seed, advances to the NCAA Tournament. It is their second tourney title in three years. Kailey Klein scored 23 points and was named tourney MVP. The Vikings shot 7-for-13 from 3-point range.
The Vikings led by double digits for most of the game before the Bulldogs made a run. Couture called timeout with 1:12 to go and the Dogs down 61-57. Butler got a stop but couldn’t cut into the lead after missing a 3 from the right side. With Butler forced to foul, CSU’s Janelle Adams made two foul shots and Shawnita Garland scored on a fast-break lay-up to put the game out of reach.
Butler found itself down 43-28 at the 13:11 mark in the second half when it went on a 15-4 run keyed by a flurry of 3s by Pittman. She hit three treys and a lay-up by junior Terra Burns got the Bulldogs within 47-43. The Vikings would answer with a trey by Angel Roque and steal-layup by Garland to go back up 52-43.
A lay-up by Thornton with 4:31 to play cut CSU’s lead to 54-50. Pittman split a one-and-one to make it 54-51 but once again Cleveland State answered the bell. A 3 by Jessica Roque and a runner by Garland had Butler down 59-53 with 2:10 to play.
Butler can still make postseason play, either in the WNIT or the inaugural Women’s Basketball Invitational. An announcement regarding postseason play will come early this week.
(photo by John Fetcho)