Jan. 10, 2009
Dayton, Ohio - Smothering defense and clutch free throws down the stretch paved the way for the Bulldogs once again, as Butler (9-6, 4-0 Horizon League) battled to a grueling 46-41 victory over host Wright State on Saturday (Jan. 10) afternoon at the Nutter Center.
The win gives the Bulldogs their first 4-0 start in league play since 1995-96, when Butler opened the league slate at 5-0 before finishing at 13-3. That team also went on to win the league tournament and advance to the NCAA tournament.
Susan Lester led the way on offense for the second-straight game, finishing with 11 points off the bench, and Terra Burns added a career-best 10 - thanks largely to an 8-for-8 effort from the free throw line - as the Bulldogs picked up their fifth-straight win and their eighth in their last 10 contests.
A physical opening contest that featured a total of 43 turnovers between the two sides also gave way to 10 lead changes and six ties.
The Raiders quickly worked out to a four-point edge in the opening five minutes, as back-to-back buckets by Ta-myra Davis and LaShawna Thomas followed by a pair of free throws by Davis gave Wright State its largest lead of the period at 8-4.
WSU steadily worked its way back to a three-point edge with less than five minutes to go in the half, but a pair of free throws by Burns and a three-pointer by Lester helped put the Bulldogs ahead by two at 17-15. The Raiders again responded, taking a one-point lead at 20-19 with just over a minute remaining, but Tara Miller forced in a lay-up in the waning seconds to give the Bulldogs a 21-20 edge heading into the locker room.
After WSU grabbed a one-point lead twice in the early minutes, the Bulldogs battled back to four-point edge at 29-25 after Akande netted a lay-up with less than 14 minutes left.
The Raiders continued to pressure, however, and didn't allow Butler pull ahead by more than four until a couple free throws by Lester and a crucial lay-up by Burns gave the Bulldogs a much-needed six-point cushion with 3:53 to go.
Wright State made things interesting in the final minutes, as Tatianna Hall banked in a three-pointer with 1:23 left to cut the difference down to two at 42-40, but a lay-up by Lester and two makes from the line by Burns sealed the exhausting affair in favor of the Bulldogs.
Butler finished with a 15-of-18 effort from the free throw line, including an 11-for-13 efficiency in the second half. The 41 points allowed, meanwhile, give the Bulldogs five-straight games of yielding 50 points or fewer and was just one shy of matching the team's season-low of 40 allowed against Christian Brothers on Dec. 29.
Lester finished 3-for-4 from the field and 4-of-4 from the line for 11 points while helping the Butler bench outscore WSU, 18-8. Burns, meanwhile, added a team-high four assists to her career-best scoring mark. Akande and Melanie Thornton each finished with eight points.
Butler returns to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Thursday (Jan. 15) when it welcomes Loyola to town for a 7:00 p.m. contest.