TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Leading by 20 with eight minutes remaining, the Butler women's basketball team held off a late Indiana State rally and knocked down clutch free throws to claim a 67-60 victory at the Hulman Center Wednesday night. Junior Alyssa Pittman led Butler with 16 points while senior Melanie Thornton added 15 and nine rebounds.
A lay-up by Chloe Hamilton put Butler (5-3) ahead 56-36 with 8:10 remaining for what would be BU's largest lead of the game. It would also be the Bulldogs' last field goal of the game, as the Sycamores would mount a furious rally behind the hot shooting of Kelsey Luna.
ISU used a 12-0 run that included a pair of Luna treys over the next six minutes to pull within 56-48. Indiana State then got a stop and Luna drove the lane looking for another hoop before freshman Becca Bornhorst blocked the shot and made two free throws to put the Bulldogs up 58-48 with 1:41 to go.
Luna hit another 3-pointer to cut it to 58-51 before Indiana State extended the game by fouling. With BU leading 61-53, Luna scored five points to cut the lead to 61-58, but the Bulldogs made nine of their final 10 free throws - including an 8-for-8 effort in the final 1:12 - to ice the victory.
"We played really well but our young kids got rattled for a bit. But they stepped up and made big free throws and executed down the stretch," head coach Beth Couture said. "It was a well-played game by both teams, and it was good for our team to come in here and win a tough game in this atmosphere."
The loss was Indiana State's first of the season, sending the Sycamores to 7-1 on the year.
Butler shot really well early, making six 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes to take a 22-11 lead. The Dogs held ISU without a field goal for a 9:22 span at one point, but the Sycamore rallied to within 26-21 on a lay-up by Luna. The Bulldogs answered with a quick 7-2 run - keyed by a trey by Pittman with 41 seconds left in the half - to take a 33-23 lead into halftime.
Bornhorst scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds for Butler. Junior Terra Burns had eight points and eight assists.
Luna finished with 26 points - 20 in the second half - on 10-for-20 shooting. Shannon Thomas added 10 points and 10 rebounds for Indiana State.
Butler made 15 of 19 at the free throw line and committed just 14 turnovers despite seeing backcourt pressure for most of the game. The Bulldogs trailed just once at the beginning of the game and led Indiana State for the final 37:35.
Butler is back in action Sunday, Dec. 13 at Cincinnati. Sunday's game at UC is set for 6 p.m.
NOTES: Alyssa Pittman had a season-high 16 points, her highest total as a Butler player. Pittman was 4-for-10 from downtown for the second consecutive game...Terra Burns' eight assists was a career high. She also made 6 of her 7 free throws while drawing Luna as an assignment on defense...BU had just 14 turnovers, the team's second lowest total of the season. Butler had 13 turnovers vs. Syracuse...Butler's bench players made all eight of their free throws, including a 4-for-4 effort by Pittman...BU set new season high for 3-point attempts with 27 and tied the season high by making eight...Besides Luna, the rest of the Sycamores managed just 11-for-37 shooting and 34 points...Becca Bornhorst is averaging 8.4 points and 4.0 rebounds over the last five games.