MILWAUKEE, WIS. -- Butler suffered through its worst shooting night of the season and host Milwaukee took enough advantage of the misfires to hand the Bulldogs a 53-42 setback at U. S. Cellular Arena on Thursday (Jan. 26) night. The loss dropped Butler to 12-10 on the season and knocked the Bulldogs out of a tie for third place in the Horizon League standings.
Butler shot just 28% for the game and just 20% in the second half. The Bulldogs' marksmanship from long-range was even worse. Butler missed all seven of its three-point field goal attempts in the first half and wound up hitting just one of 16 shots (6.3%) from beyond the three-point arc for the game.
The Bulldogs' shooting woes weren't evident at the start of the game. Butler jumped to a 10-5 lead behind field goals from four different players, and that lead stretched to as many as eight points, 21-13 on a free throw by sophomore Khyle Marshall with just eight minutes left in the first period.
But Milwaukee (14-8, 7-3 HL) closed the first half on an 11-4 run to close within a single point, 25-24, and the Panthers then opened the second half with an 8-0 run to take the lead for good.
"After they came back on us, I didn't think we responded well," said Butler head coach Brad Stevens. "It pains me to say this. I thought we were out-willed in the last 30 minutes of the game."
Despite the struggle to score, the Bulldogs stayed within striking distance with a solid defensive effort and trailed by just three, 41-38, with just over six minutes remaining. But a three-point field goal by Milwaukee's Paris Gulley stretched the margin to six, and Butler never got closer than five points the rest of the game.
Milwaukee ended the game on a 6-0 run for the final margin.
Butler had just one field goal in the final six minutes and just five field goals for the entire second half. The Bulldogs hit just one of nine three-point field goal attempts over the final 20 minutes.
"You've got to step up an make the next one," Stevens said of Butler's shooting issues. "We had a few games in the middle of January where we shot it really well, and we've had a couple now where we haven't. Our shooters have got to knock in shots. There's no two ways around that."
Butler had just one player, junior Andrew Smith (above), score in double figures. The 6-11 center finished with 11 points, but needed 13 shots to reach that total. Senior Ronald Nored finished with nine points, nine rebounds and four steals, while Marshall added nine points. Freshman Elliott Kampen, who came off the bench to hit Butler's lone three-point field goal in the game, added five points in his most extended play of the season.
Forward James Haarsma led the Panthers with 12 points, while Ryan Allen added 11.
The Bulldogs, who fell to 6-4 in the Horizon League, will close out their four-game road stretch with a game at Green Bay on Saturday, Jan. 28. That contest will start at 6 p.m. (CT, 7 p.m. in Indianapolis).
(Photo by John Fetcho)