Youngstown, Ohio - A second-half offensive surge capped by a critical defensive stop at the end of the game helped Butler to a 61-60 victory over Youngstown State on Thursday (Feb. 28) night at the Beeghly Center.
Leading by one with 24 seconds to go, Butler thwarted any chance of a game-winning shot by the Penguins before intercepting a pass to seal the win as time expired.
After shooting just 37.9 percent from the field (11-for-29) in the first half, the Bulldogs jumped for a 52.9 percent mark in the second (9-for-17) while going 16-for-21 from the free throw line to guide the offense. Meanwhile, Butler held YSU to just 39 percent shooting in the second after allowing a 50 percent rate in the first.
The two teams battled to an 8-8 tie in the first five minutes of play before YSU connected on pair of jumpers and a trey to push ahead by seven with 13:37 to go in the period. Butler steadily climbed back, cutting the deficit to one thanks in part to five points from Brittany Bowen before a jumper by Akande gave the Bulldogs a 23-22 lead with less than five minutes remaining.
Five-straight points by the Penguins pushed YSU ahead by four, but a triple from Susan Lester followed by a lay-in from Melanie Thornton put Butler back on top by one at 28-27 with just over two minutes left.
Youngstown State would close the period with a 6-2 run, however, and took a 33-30 advantage into the locker room.
The Butler offense sprung to life right of the break, as a 13-2 run turned a four-point deficit into a seven-point advantage at 45-38 with less than 12 minutes left in the game.
The two squads continued to trade punches, as 7-0 stint by YSU erased the difference before a 6-0 surge by Butler, capped by a clutch trey from Candace Bain, put the Bulldogs ahead, 53-47 with 6:48 to go. Less than two minutes later, the Penguins were right back in it, riding a 6-0 run of their own back to the seventh deadlock of the evening.
After a tough lay-up in traffic by Lester broke the ninth tie of the game, Tara Miller nailed a pair of free throws to give the Bulldogs a three-point edge at 61-58. Two shots from the line by YSU brought the Penguins back to within one, but the Butler defensive stop in the final seconds kept the Bulldogs in front as the final buzzer sounded.
The Bulldogs return to action on Saturday (March 1) when they close out their final regular season road swing of the year at Cleveland State beginning at 3:00 p.m.