Bulldogs Slip Past Ball State

Forward Khyle Marshall (Photo by John Fetcho)

MUNCIE, IND. -- On a day when shots weren't falling, Butler turned to its defense to pull out a 59-58 come-from-behind victory over Ball State.  The win on Saturday (Nov. 23) at Ball State's Worthen Arena lifted the Bulldogs to 4-0 on the young season.

Butler, playing on the road for the first time, erased an 11-point deficit in the final 14 minutes but had to weather a final attempt by the home team to secure the win.  The Cardinals pulled down a rebound on a missed free throw by Butler's Khyle Marshall with 12 seconds left, and guard Zavier Turner drove the length of the floor for a lay-up as the clock ticked down.

The ball rolled off the rim, and Butler's Kameron Woods grabbed it at the final buzzer.

"A tough, hard-fought game.  A good college basketball game," said Butler head coach Brandon Miller after the game.  

"I thought our guys had great poise and toughness in the second half.  We fought and battled and stayed true to what we do, and we were able to hold on at the end of the game."

The Bulldogs, hitting just 30% from the field and 44% from the free throw line, fell behind by seven points, 30-23, at halftime.  Ball State (2-2) stretched that advantage to 11 points, 42-31, in the first six minutes of the second half.

That's when the Bulldogs got defensive.

"The defensive side of the ball was the best side for us today," noted Miller.  "We created 17 turnovers, held them to 42% from the field.  I wish we would have guarded the three-point line a little better, but I thought defensively as a team we played together."

Butler limited Ball State to 16 points in the final 14 minutes, forcing nine turnovers during that stretch.

The Bulldogs' defense also sparked the team's offense.  Led by freshman Elijah Brown and junior Alex Barlow, Butler went on a 16-2 run to erase the 11-point deficit and grab a three-point lead.  Brown had nine points during the run, while Barlow added five.

A lay-up by senior Khyle Marshall with 3:39 remaining gave Butler it's biggest lead of the second half at 57-51, before Ball State chipped away at the margin down the stretch.

Marshall led the Bulldogs for the second straight game with 14 points, while Brown came off the bench to add 13.  Junior Kameron Woods posted his second double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Barlow added 10 points.

Barlow and freshman Andrew Chrabascz sparked Butler's defensive effort with three steals apiece  Butler out-scored the host squad, 23-10, on points off turnovers.

Ball State's Majok Majok led all scorers with 15 points, and he added a game-high 11 rebounds.  Forward Chris Bond added 14 points for the Cardinals.

Butler will remain on the road with a busy week slated in Orlando, Fla.  The Bulldogs will play Washington State at 2 p.m. (ET) on Thanksgiving Day in the first round of the Old Spice Classic.  That game will be televised on ESPN2.  The Bulldogs will face either Purdue or Oklahoma State in the second round of the tournament on Friday (Nov. 29) before wrapping up the eight-team meet on Sunday (Dec. 1).