No. 15 Butler Falls to Loyola of Chicago Despite Late Rally, 71-67
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Freshman Jordan Hicks scored a career-high 23 points and Loyola of Chicago snapped a six-game losing streak with a 71-67 victory over No. 15 Butler on Sunday.
The Ramblers (13-15, 5-11 Horizon League) notched their first win over a ranked opponent since a 75-71 victory at Butler two years ago. The loss prevented the Bulldogs (22-3, 13-2) from clinching at least a share of their third straight conference regular-season championship.
Loyola took advantage of Butler's early poor shooting and repeated turnovers and built a 34-16 lead with under 2 minutes left in the first half, the Bulldogs' biggest deficit all season.
Matt Howard, who scored a career-high 30 points for Butler, led a comeback that brought the Bulldogs within 69-67 with 31 seconds left, but Justin Cerasoli hit two free throws with 4 seconds remaining to seal the win.
Cerasoli finished with 17 points.
Loyola, which lost 78-55 to Butler in their first meeting this season, went on an 11-0 run midway through the first half. Five players scored during the streak, and a basket by Darrin Williams put Loyola up 19-7 before two straight rebound baskets by Howard.
After missing nine of its first 12 shots from the field and its first seven free throws, Butler was clearly rattled. The Bulldogs had turnovers on four straight possessions late in the first half, when another 9-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Marcus Thomas, pushed Loyola's lead to 30-13.
Butler's biggest deficit before that was 13 points several times during the season.
Two free throws by Thomas gave Loyola its biggest lead of the game at 34-16, and Loyola led 37-23 at halftime.
Howard, held to nine points in the first half, started the Butler comeback with three baskets early in the second.
Butler pulled within 65-60 on a basket by Howard, two free throws by Gordon Hayward and a free throw by Shelvin Mack. Two minutes later, a 3-pointer by Willie Veasley and a free throw by Howard had Butler within 69-67.
Butler had a chance to tie or take the lead after a Loyola turnover, but a bad pass by Hayward and a foul by Ronald Nored sent Cerasoli to the line for the clinching free throws.
Hicks' 23 points topped his previous career high of 14 set last Tuesday against Wright State. He had a career-high eight rebounds.
Hayward added 14 points and Veasley had 13 for Butler.