INDIANAPOLIS - Bradley overcame an attacking Butler women's basketball defense and the Braves made the late plays down the stretch to beat Butler 71-63 Wednesday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The game against Bradley was the Bulldogs' home opener.
Senior Devin Brierly led Butler with 18 points, six assists and four steals. All 18 of her points came in the second half. Brierly finished 10-for-11 at the free throw line and 4-for-11 from the floor. Sophomore post player Sarah Hamm added 12 points, five rebounds and four blocks.
"I thought Devin had a good game tonight," head coach Beth Couture said. "She's somebody who understands the tradition here. She was going to fight and scratch to keep us in the game and that's what she did."
Forcing turnovers and getting to the foul line kept Butler within striking distance. The Bulldogs were at one point 18-for-20 from the free throw line and finished 21-for-26. Shooting a low percentage, the Dawgs used an attacking, scappy defense to force 24 Bradley turnovers. It was the fourth time this year Butler has taken the ball away at least 20 times.
"We knew we could get to the free throw line against them, but at the end of the day we have young players learning the system," Couture said. "We can't use this as an excuse. We need to grow up quickly and we need to put in extra time to learn the system."
Bradley's Leah Kassing had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Braves. Kassing made perhaps the biggest play of the night after she missed a pair of free throws. With the Bulldogs trailing 63-59 late in the game, Kassing missed a free throw but got her own rebound. Bradley ate some clock and then Kassing scored on a running hook in the lane to put Bradley ahead 65-59 with 2:05 remaining. Butler got within 65-61 moments later but would have to foul down the stretch and the Braves iced the game.
Catie O'Leary scored 15 for Bradley (5-3), while Katie Yohn added 13. The visiting BU team had a 45-28 rebounding edge and forced Butler into .328 shooting from the floor. Butler was also 4-for-21 from 3-point range.
Butler (1-5) played five straight away games to open the season before losing at home to Bradley. The next two games are also away, as BU will travel to Bowling Green and Indiana State in the next week.