Muncie, Ind. - Susan Lester led all scorers with 25 points, including 21 in the second period, and the Bulldogs held Ball State to just four points in the final eight minutes to pull away for a 66-49 victory over the Cardinals on Saturday (Dec. 29) afternoon at the John E. Worthen Arena.
Ball State (4-9) trimmed a 14-point second period deficit to just six at 51-45 with 8:43 to go in the game, but the Bulldogs (10-1) would clamp down on the defensive end down the stretch, holding the Cardinals to just 2-for-12 shooting from the field in the final minutes.
Butler, meanwhile, rode a dominant 20 minutes by Lester and a sparkling 10-for-10 mark from the free throw line to run away for its eighth-straight victory.
After battling to an 8-8 deadlock through the first 9:30, the Bulldogs rode an 18-4 run over the ensuing 10 minutes, including six of Akande's 10 first-half points and five from Brown, to build up a 26-12 advantage with just under two minutes to go in the period.
Ball State cut the gap to 10 with a 6-2 sprint of their own, but Brown nailed a trey in the closing seconds - her second of the period - to boost the Bulldog margin back to 31-18 at the half.
The Cardinals brought the deficit down to eight with a 10-5 burst out of the locker room keyed by eight points by Lisa Rusche, but 10 points by Lester and four by Brittany Bowen pushed the Bulldog lead back to 13.
BSU would not go away, however, riding a 13-6 run to close the gap to six before the Bulldogs slammed the door in the final minutes.
The Bulldogs held convincing 22-10 advantage in paint scoring in the first half before finishing with a 36-30 edge in the game. Butler also cashed in 18 Ball State turnovers into 21 points and held a 19-4 scoring edge off the bench.
Lester finished with an 8-for-11 clip from the field with three treys and a 6-for-6 mark from the line while pulling down six boards. Akande added 12 points, including 10 in the first half, on 6-for-12 shooting, while Brown chipped in 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting and a career-best seven rebounds.
Butler opens up the New Year and the Horizon League season on Saturday (Jan. 5) when they take on Valparaiso beginning at 2:35 p.m. ET (1:35 CT).