January 17, 2009

Bulldogs Defeat UIC, 59-52

CHICAGO (AP) -For 24 minutes, it seemed every shot Butler took was going to miss. The Bulldogs, led by freshman Gordon Hayward, kept shooting.

Hayward hit seven 3-pointers and tied his career-high with 25 points as No. 17 Butler mounted a second-half comeback for a 59-52 victory over Illinois-Chicago on Saturday.

"Everybody on our team is a great shooter," said Willie Veasley, who scored 10 including two 3s. "So when things aren't falling, we just have to keep shooting. It's bound to go in sooner or later."

Hayward agreed.

"I think sometimes when you see the ball go in the hoop, it takes a burden off us," he said. "We know we're good shooters."

Shelvin Mack had 18 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Bulldogs (16-1, 7-0 Horizon League), who overcame a 13-point second-half deficit to win their eighth straight.

"We went in at halftime and Coach told us to keep shooting," Veasley said. "It's the law of averages. You missed a lot in the first, they're bound to drop in in the second."

Tori Boyd scored 13 points, Robo Kreps had 11 and Scott VanderMeer had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Flames (9-8, 2-5), who lost for the sixth time in eight games.

Hayward hit two free throws and consecutive 3-pointers to give the Bulldogs a 53-45 lead with 2:21 left.

Butler used a 13-4 run to pull within four points, then went on a 7-0 run to take a 43-42 lead with 8:26 remaining.

"We did our best and played as hard as we can possibly can play," UIC coach Jimmy Collins said. "Butler has a team that has the burning desire to excel. When the going gets tough, they get going. We couldn't meet their toughness down the stretch."

UIC closed the first half on a 11-3 run to a take a 28-17 lead.

Butler went over 7 minutes without scoring as UIC used a 12-2 run to take a 17-8 lead with 7:22 left in the first half.

"I would have liked to come out here and shoot it a little better in the first half but that's why you do other things," Bulldogs coach Brad Stevens said. "We just had to figure out a way to stay in it until the shots started falling."

Both teams struggled with shooting in the first half as UIC hit 35.7 percent (10-of-28) while Butler was 7-of-31, including going 3-of-21 from 3-point range.

Both coaches went barefoot to help collect shoes and raise awareness of Samaritan's Feet, a Charlotte-based nonprofit organization that distributes shoes.

IUPUI coach Ron Hunter started the trend last year as the first Division I coach to go barefoot on the sidelines during a game. More than 300 coaches have pledged to go barefoot for one game and collect shoes around Martin Luther King Day, according to Samaritan's Feet.