Second-Half Rally Comes Up Short, As Butler Falls To Marquette In WNIT

Milwaukee, Wis. - Butler rallied from a 16-point deficit midway through the second period to pull to within one and put itself within striking distance in the final minutes, but host Marquette would hold on down the stretch to escape with a 58-49 decision in the second round of the 2009 Women's National Invitation Tournament on Monday (March 23) evening at the Al McGuire Center.

Finding themselves on the short-end of a 39-23 contest less than eight minutes into the second period, the Bulldogs rode an improbable 17-2 run over the ensuing six minutes to close to within one point at 41-40.

The Golden Eagles responded with a quick 10-0 surge to boost the difference back out to 11 and maintained an 11-point edge with less than four minutes remaining. Butler once again bounced back, however, cutting the margin back down to four with just over a minute to go but could get no closer.

After a sluggish opening period where neither team could find any offensive consistency, the host Golden Eagles opened up the second half by quickly turning their four-point advantage into a 12-point edge just six minutes in.

The difference ballooned to a game-high 16 points after Marquette's Krystal Ellis converted a lay-up and bonus free throw with 12:10 left to go.

Stealing a page from its WNIT first round game against Duquesne - which saw the Bulldogs overcome a 10-point second-half deficit to win late - Butler remained undaunted and steadily worked its way right back into the contest.

A lay-up by Susan Lester followed by an old-fashioned three-pointer by Terra Burns trimmed the gap to 11 before Lester buried a long-distance trey to bring the Bulldogs to within eight at 39-31 with less than 10 minutes to go.

Marquette earned two points back on the following possession, but Burns and Lester would again answer the call. The sophomore guard drew another foul on another made lay-in and converted the bonus free throw to cut the margin to six before the junior forward drained her second triple of the night to bring the Bulldogs to within three.

Lester found herself in the right place at the right time on the next trip down the floor, as she tipped in a missed lay-up to cap the surge and put Butler down just one at 41-40 with 6:29 on the clock.

The Golden Eagles found their shooting touch over the next two minutes, as Marquette converted back-to-back threes, a pair of free throws and a jumper to push its lead back to 11 at 51-40.

The Bulldogs would continue to show the determination that helped it to its first postseason appearance in over a decade, as Lade Akande drained two shots from the line, Burns added a lay-up and Brittany Bowen chipped in a lay-in and a free throw to key a 7-0 surge that brought Butler back to within striking distance at 53-49 with 1:19 to go.

The comeback would end there, however, as Marquette kept the Bulldogs off the board for the final minute to hold on for the win.

Butler opened up the contest with a determined style of play, running out to a 13-7 lead through the first 10 minutes while holding the Golden Eagles to just 3-for-16 shooting from the floor.

The Bulldogs led by five at 16-11 with less than seven minutes to go in the frame before Marquette rallied on a 7-0 jaunt to take a two-point edge just three minutes later.

Free throws by Burns brought the scoring back to even at 18-18, but a jumper and tip-in down the stretch gave the Golden Eagles a 22-18 margin at the break.

Burns finished with a 4-of-11 effort from the floor and a 5-for-8 mark from the line to lead the team with 13 points, six assists and a career-best seven steals. Lester added 12 points and five rebounds, while Melanie Thornton chipped in 10 points and team-bests with six boards and three blocks.