Valiant Rally Not Enough As Bulldogs Fall Short Of Cleveland State, 79-68

Cleveland, Ohio - Butler overcame a 21-point first half deficit to take a three-point lead midway through the second, but host Cleveland State rode a 15-4 run late in the game to hold on for a 79-68 decision in the quarterfinals of the Horizon League Championship on Wednesday (March 12) in the Wolstein Center

After the Vikings (17-13) came out with the hot shooting touch in the first 10 minutes of the game to build up a 33-12 advantage with 9:29 to go, Butler (20-10) steadily climbed back, cutting the deficit to just five a the break before taking its first lead of the contest less than seven minutes into the second period.

The Bulldogs could not maintain the difference, however, as CSU took advantage of Butler foul trouble for 10 hits from the line to reclaim the lead before pulling away in the final minutes for the victory.

Things did not look good for the Bulldogs in the early going, as the Vikings drained four three-pointers in the first six-plus minutes to jump out to a 16-6 margin. CSU continued to push ahead by turning to the inside game with three consecutive lay-ups before hitting three-straight triples to stake itself to an overwhelming 21-point advantage.

Butler was not about to quit, though, as the Bulldogs found its own touch from beyond the arc with Tara Miller, Brittany Bowen, Candyce Brown and Susan Lester all hitting triples to cut the deficit to just eight with 5:27 to go in the period.

A lay-up by Lade Akande brought the Bulldogs to within three at 42-39 with just over a minute remaining before CSU took a five-point advantage into the locker room.

A quick start to the second by the Vikings boosted their lead back to nine, but an ensuing 10-2 run, keyed by a pair of lay-ups from Akande and Lester, brought the Bulldogs to within one before a bank-shot by Jones put Butler in front for the first time of the night at 51-50 with 13:21 left.

The Bulldogs continued to maintain an edge over the next four minutes, holding as much as a three-point lead with less than 10 minutes to go, but the late scoring run by the Vikings proved to be too much to overcome.

Lester finished with 15 points and a team-best 12 rebounds for her ninth double-double of the year, while Bowen added a team-high 17 points. Miller (14) and Akande (11) also finished with double-figure points, while Jones dished a team-best five assists.

Butler concludes the 2007-08 season with a 20-10 overall record, the program's best single season mark since the 1997-98 campaign (25-6).