Indianapolis, Ind. - The stingy defense that had been Butler's trademark throughout the early part of the season was unable to quell a hot-shooting Milwaukee squad, as the Panthers used a big second-half run to pull away for a 65-50 decision at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday (Jan. 19).
The loss sends the Bulldogs to 12-4 on the year and 2-3 in Horizon League play.
Just about every shot seemed to be falling for Milwaukee (10-7, 5-1 HL), as the Panthers shot a staggering 52.3 percent from the field (23-for-44) and 45.5 percent from three-point range (5-of-11).
A Butler starting five that had been consistent for the first 15 games of the season saw significant changes for the contest against the Panthers, and the moves seemed to be paying dividends at the start.
Freshman Chloe Hamilton, earning her first start of her career, netted the first points of the game and the Bulldogs' first two buckets on a pair of jumpers. Meanwhile, freshman Azjah Bass, also starting for the first time, gave Butler its first lead of the afternoon on a jumper just seconds later.
The two squads traded leads four times through opening five minutes before Milwaukee strung together a 12-2 run to go ahead by 10 at 24-14 with 7:35 to go in the period.
The Bulldogs came right back however, riding a 12-0 streak over the next five minutes and taking a two-point edge at 26-24 after junior Cassie Freeman nailed a three-pointer with 2:16 left.
Milwaukee closed the half with a 5-0 surge, as a jumper by Traci Edwards knotted the score again before a trey by Maurika Hickman put the Panthers up 29-26 at the break.
Butler brought the scoring back to even to start the second half, as Susan Lester converted the front end of a one-and-one before sinking a lay-in to tie the game at 29-29.
The Bulldogs continued to pressure the Panthers early on in the period. After UWM pushed its lead out to five, Candace Jones drained a three to cut the deficit to two. Milwaukee surged ahead moments later and led by seven at 41-34, but Candyce Brown netted a pair of free throws and Lester sank another triple to bring the difference back down to two.
The Milwaukee offense would take over from there, however, using an 11-0 run to go up 54-41 and leading by as much as 19 before claiming the decision.
Lester finished with a team-high 10 points and nine rebounds, while Freeman and Candace Bain added eight points each.
Edwards led all scorers with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
The defeat gives Butler back-to-back losses for the first time since January of last season.
Butler returns to action on Thursday (Jan. 24) when they travel to Detroit for a 7:00 p.m. game against the Titans.