CANCUN - Northern Iowa shot 68 percent in the second half and Butler had a 3-pointer to tie fall short as the Butler women's basketball team lost, 65-60, to UNI in Cancun Saturday night. Senior Susan Lester led the Bulldogs with 16 points and was named to the Cancun Thanksgiving Classic All-Tournament Team.
Trailing 63-60 with 19 seconds remaining, Butler (2-3) ran a play for junior Alyssa Pittman at the top of the key. The trey fell short with seven seconds left and BU missed a put-back shot then had to foul. Northern Iowa (1-4) buried two free throws to provide the final margin.
UNI's Kim Wypiszinski led all players with 21 points - 20 in the second half - and nine rebounds. Northern Iowa shot 17-for-25 from the floor and 12-for-13 from the free throw line in the second half.
The Bulldogs led 28-20 with 17 minutes remaining before the game went from a defensive slugfest to an offensive shootout. BU twice trailed by 10 in the second half before rallying each time.
Northern Iowa went on a 12-4 run over three minutes to tie it at 32-32 with 14:03 left. Another run - this time a 13-3 spurt - gave the Panthers a 45-35 lead with 11:05 to go in the game. A steal and lay-up by senior Melanie Thornton and back-to-back 3s from Lester in a span of 1:27 cut the lead to 45-43.
Five points from Jacqui Kalin and a pair of Wypiszinski free throws put the Panthers put the Bulldogs in another hole, trailing 54-45 with 7:34 left in the game. Butler once again answered the bell, with Lester (2 points) and junior Brittany Bowen (6 points) ripping off an 8-0 run over a 2:01 stretch to make it 54-53 with 4:24 to go.
Wypiszinski had two lay-ups in the final minute to put UNI ahead 62-58 with 38 ticks left. Bowen scored for Butler and then Wypiszinski split a pair of free throws to give Northern Iowa the 63-60 lead during the final possession.
Neither team did much offensively in a fast-paced first half. Butler went into the locker room at halftime with a 22-16 lead. To contrast 26 percent shooting in the first half, BU gave perhaps its most spirited 20 minutes of defense and rebounding of the season. The Bulldogs allowed just five made field goals as UNI shot 23 percent during the opening half, and Butler also held the Panthers without an offensive rebound.
Bowen had 13 points and Thornton added 10 points and seven rebounds. After an ice-cold first half, BU shot 48.4 percent in the second period. The Bulldogs finished with 37.1 percent shooting for the game, including a 4-for-26 effort from beyond the arc.
UNI's Kalin had 14 points and a game-high four assists, while K.K. Armstrong came off the bench to score 13 points.
Butler departs for the U.S. tomorrow afternoon and will play two home games next week, hosting Evansville (Dec. 2) and Miami (Ohio) (Dec. 5).