Nov. 25, 2005
Freshman Lade Akande made a big splash in her second collegiate outing, posting 23 points and 12 rebounds in a 69-57 Butler win over Central Florida (1-2) in the opening game of the Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic in Moraga, Calif., just across the bay from San Francisco. Butler (1-1) will play the winner of host Saint Mary's and Princeton Saturday evening. Those teams played the second game of Friday's doubleheader.
Akande hit nine of her 17 attempts from the field. Both her point and rebound totals were game-highs. Junior Ellen Hamilton added 16 points, going 4-of-4 from behind the arc and 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. She led the Butler charge from deep, as the team went 7-of-12 from three-point range. Butler is shooting 57 percent from behind the arc so far this season.
"We had a great mentality out there tonight," said Butler head coach Beth Couture. "We stayed composed when they made their run in the second half and keeping our focus is key for this young team. It's great to be able to score both inside and out so far this season and Lade had a great game for us. Ellen hit some timely shots and we had key people make plays at critical times for us to earn this team win."
Both of Hamilton's second-half three-pointers came at opportune times for the Bulldogs, as a 10-0 UCF had trimmed an 11-point Butler lead to just one midway through the second half. Her bomb with 8:15 remaining returned the Bulldogs to a four-point advantage at 52-48. Her trey with 3:42 remaining gave the Bulldogs a 59-54 lead and started a 13-3 run over the last four minutes to ice the win for Butler. Hamilton hit four free throws and senior Jessica Smart had a three-point play for the final margin.
Showing some rust from the week layoff, Butler made just four of its first 12 shot attempts and committed nine turnovers in the first 14 minutes before warming up to close the half. Butler made eight of its last 10 attempts from the field and used a 23-8 run to close the half to take a 33-22 halftime advantage. Eleven of Akande's total came in the first 20 minutes.
Francine Houston led the Golden Knights with 19 points, including 17 in the second half. UCF won the Atlantic Sun Conference title the last three seasons and enters their first campaign in the re-shaped Conference USA.
Butler shot 47 percent from the field and had 25 free throw attempts to just eight for UCF. The Bulldogs were able to overcome 24 turnovers and a 40-38 rebounding deficit. Junior Jackie Closser had a game-high six assists for Butler.
The Bulldogs arrived in the bay area late Tuesday night and have been busy leading up to Friday evening's game. The team toured Alcatraz and Fisherman's Wharf Wednesday afternoon and joined family and friends that made the trip west Thursday evening for Thanksgiving dinner.