INDIANAPOLIS - Butler made a renewed commitment to defense and it paid off as the BU women's basketball team defeated Valparaiso, 57-43, Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Senior Melanie Thornton had 17 points and three blocked shots to lead the Bulldogs.
Junior Brittany Bowen added 15 points and eight rebounds, highlighted by 3-for-4 3-point shooting. Junior Terra Burns had seven points, five rebounds and five assists with just one turnover.
The game was among Butler's best defensive efforts of the season. Valpo had more turnovers (19) than field goals (18) and the Crusaders shot just 30.5 percent.
"Defense is what we worked on the past three days," head coach Beth Couture said. "We improved in a lot of areas defensively and I was impressed with our kids doing what we've asked to make our team better in the long run. Our shots weren't falling today but if we play good defense, we can hang our hat on that and win."
Butler (9-5, 2-1 HL) took command with a 10-0 run midway through the first half that gave the Dogs a 21-14 lead. Valpo pulled to within 21-20 before BU hit back-to-back 3s to close the half to take a 27-20 halftime lead.
"We made a run and they came back. Those two 3s were the difference," Couture said. "It turned a close game into a 7-point lead for us."
After sitting out most of the first half in foul trouble, Thornton took over in the second half. The 6-foot-1 senior had 15 points on 7-for-9 in the final period to help Butler shoot 50 percent and run past the Crusaders. Butler led 37-28 when Thornton scored 11 points over a span of 3:42 to give the Bulldogs a 48-30 lead.
Butler cruised the rest of the way, with Valparaiso coming no closer than 52-40 in the final minutes.
Valparaiso (4-9, 1-2 HL) was led by Indiana native Kelly Watts' 13 points, 15 rebounds and four steals. The Crusaders shot just 1-for-15 from beyond the arc, including 0-for-9 in the second half.
Butler will travel to Cleveland State Thursday, Jan. 14 for a 7 p.m. game. The Bulldogs defeated CSU twice last year.