Cleveland State Outlasts Butler, 76-69
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Butler overcame a 16-point deficit in the first half and nearly erased an 11-point deficit in the final period, but visiting Cleveland State held on to post a 76-69 Horizon League victory at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Friday, Jan. 13. The loss dropped the Bulldogs to 9-9 on the season and 3-3 in league play.
The Bulldogs trailed 59-48 with eight minutes remaining and were down 64-54 with four-and-a-half minutes left. But the home squad staged a rally in the final minute behind a flurry of three-point field goals in the final minute. Junior Chase Stigall cashed two long-range shots and senior Ronald Nored banked one in from well beyond the three-point arc with 22 seconds left to cut the lead to 72-69.
That was as close as the Bulldogs would come. The Vikings (15-3, 5-1), who moved into a tie for first place in the league standings, hit four consecutive free throws in the final 18 seconds to close out the scoring.
"Those two streaks, the one at the start of the game and the one toward the latter part of the second half were obviously the great separators," said Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the game. "(Jeremy) Montgomery did what he does and that's goes off in spurts, and when he goes off in a spurt you're in trouble. And then I thought physically they out-did us inside the three-point line."
Cleveland State, which had not won a regular season game in Hinkle Fieldhouse since 2005, jumped out to a huge lead. After Stigall gave Butler an initial 3-0 lead, the Vikings scored 20 of the game's next 21 points to take a 20-4 advantage with 12:30 remaining in the opening period.
The Bulldogs mounted their first comeback over the final 12 minutes of the first half and eventually cut the lead to two, 35-33, on a three-point field goal by junior Andrew Smith as the half came to an end.
Butler then took a lead, 41-40, on a pair of free throws by Smith four minutes into the second half. That wound up being Butler's only lead of the second half. Montgomery scored five points and forward Tim Kamczyk added four to fuel a 9-1 run that put Cleveland State on top for good.
Montgomery, who scored just two points in the first half, led four Cleveland State players in double-figures with 18 points, while Kamczyk added 17. Trevon Harmon finished with 12 points, while freshman Anton Grady came off the bench with 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Smith (left) led the Bulldogs with 13 points, while Nored and Stigall each added 12. Sophomore Khyle Marshall finished with 11 points. Freshman Kameron Woods came off the bench with eight points and eight rebounds.
The Bulldogs nailed 10 of 21 three-point field goal attempts (.476) in the game, but shot just 40.5% overall and just 59.5% (25-42) from the free throw line.
Butler won't have much time to reflect on it's loss to the league-leading Vikings. Youngstown State, a team that beat Cleveland State earlier this season, visits Hinkle Fieldhouse for a 2 p.m. (ET) game on Sunday, Jan. 15.