February 8, 2007

Akande, Lester Help Bulldogs Claw Past Ramblers, 71-67

Feb. 8, 2007

Box Score

Chicago - Sophomore Lade Akande and freshman Susan Lester combined for 49 points and 20 rebounds and the Bulldogs (10-12, 7-3 Horizon League) hung on through a fast-paced affair to top host Loyola, 71-67, on Thursday (Feb. 8) night at the Joseph J. Gentile Center.

The two squads scrapped through 17 lead changes, including 12 in a high-octane first half, before the Bulldogs held on in the final eight minutes for the win.

Both teams got out to hot starts on offense in the early going, as Akande and Lester each posted six points in the first 10 minutes to help Butler out to a 21-20 lead with 9:47 to go in the period.

A trey by Jackie Closser with just under five minutes remaining gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the stanza at 28-24, but the Butler offense would go cold in the waning moments as Loyola scored seven unanswered to head into the break with a three-point advantage at 31-28.

Butler came right back in the opening minute of the second, as Lester tied the game with three the old fashioned way before Ellen Hamilton put the Bulldogs in front at 34-31 with a long-range triple.

The next five minutes was all Lester for the Bulldogs, as the 6-2 forward scored Butler's 10-straight points to hold off an incessant attack by the Ramblers. Loyola (6-16, 4-7 HL) eventually regained the lead at 50-48 on a pair of makes from the line by Jenna Real, but Akande tallied nine of the Bulldogs' next 13 points to push Butler out to its biggest margin at 61-53 with 6:08 left to play.

Loyola refused to go away, cutting the difference to two at 64-62 with just over two minutes to go, but a clutch lay-up by Akande gave the Bulldogs a two-possession advantage before Closser iced the game with four-straight free throws.

The Bulldogs regained control of the basketball in the second half after an uncharacteristically-careless first half, turning the ball over only twice after recording nine miscues in the first. Meanwhile, Butler took advantage of Loyola's 17 turnovers to the tune of 17 points.

Lester finished with her fifth double-double of the season, notching a career-high with 13 rebounds and tying her career mark with 24 points. Akande led all scorers with 25 points on a career-tying 11 field goals and added seven boards, three blocks and three steals.

Closser finished in double-figures for the 19th time in 22 games with 11 points, while sophomore Tara Miller dealt a game-high six assists.

Real paced the Ramblers with 21 points, including 13 in the first, while Marquise Hanser and Elyse VanBogaert each finished with 10.

The Bulldogs close out their swing through Chicago on Saturday (Feb. 10) when they take on UIC beginning at 7:00 p.m. CST at the UIC Pavilion.