Butler's Comeback Attempts Falls Short at Saint Mary's, 69-59

Butler's Comeback Attempts Falls Short at Saint Mary's, 69-59

Nov. 27, 2005

Box Score

A second-half rally, highlighted by 18 Jackie Closser points, fell short as host Saint Mary's (2-2) downed Butler, 69-59, in the championship game of the Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic in Moraga, Calif., just across the bay from San Francisco. Butler (1-2) also got 14 points from freshman Lade Akande, who earned a spot on the "All-Tournament Team."

Butler shot just 23 percent from the field in the first half as the host Gaels entered the intermission with a 38-20 advantage. Saint Mary's closed the first 20 minutes with a 22-6 run, including a 16-4 edge over the last 9:22 of the half as Akande went to the bench with her second foul.

Head coach Beth Couture rallied her Bulldogs for the second half, led by Closser's 18 points in the second stanza. Closser hit four of six shot attempts after the break and all seven of her free throw tosses. A 14-4 Butler run trimmed a 19-point SMC lead to just nine at 65-56 with just under five minutes to play. However, the Bulldogs could never get over the last hurdle, missing their next eight shots. SMC held Butler scoreless over the last five minutes until Closser hit a trey with six seconds to play for the final margin.

Butler had 16 assists on 17 field goals, but shot just 33 percent on the night. Included in that total was a 5-of-22 performance from three-point range. The Bulldogs entered the contest hitting 57 percent of their three-point attempts in their first two games. Butler did hit 20-of-24 free throws, led by Closser's 7-of-7 night. Closser and freshman Candace Jones tied for the team-high with five assists. Ellen Hamilton added 11 points for Butler.

Eghosa Obaiza came off the bench to lead the Gaels with 16 points. She hit all seven of her shots and added a game-high eight rebounds. Saint Mary's shot 42 percent and held a 40-33 rebounding advantage.

The Bulldogs arrived in the bay area late Tuesday night and have been busy both on and off the court. 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.

Butler returns to action Wednesday (Nov. 30), traveling to Charleston, Ill., to face Eastern Illinois. The tip is set for 7:35 p.m. (CST, 8:35 Indianapolis) and the game will be broadcast live on www.butlersports.com. The game is the will be the fourth of Butler's six-game road stretch to open the 2005-06 campaign. The Bulldogs host Ball State Saturday, Dec. 10 at Hinkle Fieldhouse in the home opener.

Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic All-Tournament Team
Lade Akande, Butler

Jontelle Smith, Saint Mary's (MVP)
Eghosa Obaiza, Saint Mary's
Francine Houston, Central Florida
Jessica Berry, Princeton