Bulldogs Edge Green Bay, 53-49
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Freshman Kameron Woods nailed the biggest shot of his young career in the final minute of the game to help lift Butler to a 53-49 victory over visiting Green Bay at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Thursday (Dec. 29). The hard-fought win lifted Butler to 7-7 on the season and 1-1 in the Horizon League.
With Butler clinging to a two-point lead, 49-47, and the shot clock clicking toward 0:00, Woods took a pass from teammate Ronald Nored and nailed a three-point field goal from the top of the key. The dramatic basket with just 0:20 left in the game gave the Bulldogs their second-largest lead of the contest.
Woods then helped Butler hold the lead with a key blocked shot and a steal down the stretch. Butler closed out its second consecutive win for just the second time this season.
"One of the things we stress on this team is trying to play your role to the fullest," said Woods after the game. "I know what my role is and I just try to come in and help the team in any way that I can."
On a night when the Bulldogs struggled to make shots, it took a staunch effort at the defensive end for Butler to prevail. The Bulldogs limited Green Bay to just 27.8% shooting, while out-rebounding the Phoenix, 45-41.
"We found a way to win against a very well-coached team," said Butler head coach Brad Stevens.
"I think we guarded pretty well. We tried to guard them as hard as we could. They got a few open looks in the second half, but we had guarded them hard enough that those open looks were a little tougher," added the Butler coach.
Green Bay (6-7, 2-1 HL) took control with an 8-2 run midway through the first half. That stretch, featuring three-point field goals by Brennan Cougill and Aaron Armstead gave the visitors a 14-8 lead. The Phoenix then stretched that margin to 21-11, before Butler unleashed its own 10-0 run.
Woods scored five of those points, while freshman Roosevelt Jones eventually tied the game at 21-21 with a lay-up. But Green Bay answered with four straight points to take a 25-21 halftime lead.
Butler hit just eight of 32 shots in the opening 20 minutes, including none in 10 attempts from the three-point arc.
The Phoenix maintained the upper hand for nearly nine minutes of the second half, before freshman Andrew Smeathers nailed Butler's first three-point field goal of the game with 11:04 remaining to give the Bulldogs a 38-37 lead.
The Bulldogs took their biggest lead of the contest at 46-40 with 4:47 left on a free throw by junior Andrew Smith (right). Green Bay cut the lead to one at 48-47 with under three minutes left, but sophomore Khyle Marshall followed with a single free throw at 2:18 and then Woods hit the game-changer.
Smith, who hit five of six shots in the game, and Nored shared Butler's scoring lead with 13 points apiece, while Woods finished with 10. Jones pulled down a team-high 12 rebounds to help Butler win the battle of the boards.
Center Alec Brown led Green Bay with 13 points, while Cougill topped both teams with 13 rebounds.
Butler will be back in action on Saturday with a home game against league-leading Milwaukee. The Panthers improved to 3-0 in the league with a victory at Valparaiso on Thursday. That game at Hinkle Fieldhouse will start at 2 p.m. (ET).