March 7, 2009
Cleveland, Ohio - Susan Lester scored a game-high 22 points, Brittany Bowen and Melanie Thornton added double-figure scoring totals and the Bulldogs held off host Cleveland State to match the Butler record for conference wins with a 68-59 victory over the Vikings on Saturday (March 7) at the Wolstein Center.
The win sends Butler to 19-10 on the year and 14-4 in Horizon League play - matching the 1992-93 team's 14 league wins for the most in school history. Cleveland State, meanwhile, falls to 18-12 overall and 12-6 in conference.
Butler's victory also gives the team an outright second-place finish in the league.
After battling through a tight opening 10 minutes, Butler used a 12-2 run - keyed by seven points by Lester and four from Terra Burns - to run ahead to a 26-15 advantage with just over five and a half minutes to go in the period.
CSU countered with an 8-2 surge of their own to cut the gap to five, but back-to-back buckets by Lade Akande helped give the Bulldogs take a 32-25 advantage into the locker room.
The Vikings continued the comeback in the second half, scoring seven unanswered points to take a 34-32 lead just two minutes in. CSU would run out to as much as a five point advantage at 46-41 with 12:18 on the clock before the Bulldogs responded.
A pair of free throws by Bowen helped bring the Bulldogs back to within two before the sophomore guard drained a clutch three-pointer to put Butler back in front at 49-48 with just over 10 minutes to go.
Two buckets by Thornton bookended around a three by Candace Jones keyed a seven-point surge that pushed the Bulldogs out to a 56-49 lead with 7:39 to go.
Cleveland State would close to within four with less than five minutes left, but two more buckets by Thornton and a pair of free throws by Lester helped lead another seven-point run that put Butler up by 11 with two minutes remaining and sealed the Bulldog win.
Butler finished with a 12-4 advantage in second-chance points, while the Bulldog bench outscored the Vikings', 21-13.
Lester went 8-for-13 from the field and 2-of-4 from beyond the arc to lead all scorers with 22 points and finished just one rebound shy of a double-double with nine. Bowen added a 4-of-8 effort and a 3-for-3 mark from long range for 13 points, while Thornton chipped in 11 points and six boards.
Butler will open up the Horizon League Championship as the No. 2 seed on Wednesday (March 11) at 7:00 p.m. at Hinkle Fieldhouse when it hosts the winner of the first-round game between No. 7 Milwaukee and No. 10 Youngstown State.