INDIANAPOLIS - Senior Devin Brierly scored a career-high 22 points and a suffocating Butler defense defeated Ball State 55-43 Friday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Freshman Haley Howard added 15 points for Butler, which snapped a six-game losing streak.
The Bulldogs limited the Cardinals to .292 shooting and forced 27 Ball State turnovers. No BSU player made it into double figures, as Shelbie Justice led the team with nine points.
"I knew it was going to be a battle because both teams aren't putting up a lot of points," head coach Beth Couture said. "I felt on Tuesday (at Indiana State) we stepped it up defensively and I wanted to see back-to-back efforts there and I did. We've held teams in the 40's and around 20 percent shooting."
Brierly scored her 22 on 7-for-12 shooting and 7-for-9 at the free throw line. Her previous career high was 20 points, set earlier this season at IPFW. Howard shot 5-for-9 and made all four of her free throws. She has now made all 21 of her foul shots this season, leading the Horizon League.
"That was a big-time performance by Devin," Couture said. "And right now we're pleased with Haley's scoring. She's working really hard to figure out the game planning and the little things she has to do. She's very valuable for us."
Ball State (4-5) scored the first five points of the game but the rest of the night was all Butler. An 11-0 run over a 3:56 span gave BU an 11-5 lead it would not relinquish. BU maintained a two or three possession lead the entire half en route to a 25-17 lead at halftime.
As Ball State continued to turn the ball over, Butler built its lead. BU led 40-28 with 9:42 to play before the Cardinals cut the Dawgs' lead to 45-39. Leading 47-41, Butler pulled away with an 8-0 run to lead in the final minute 55-41, the largest lead of the night.
"The biggest thing for me was our effort tonight," Couture said. "The last play of the game when Jenna dove on the ball is how we need to play right now. If we can compete and out-hustle teams, we'll be in a lot of games."
Butler (2-7) had a 22-8 scoring advantage in the paint and 21 points off turnovers. The Bulldogs also out-rebounded Ball State 36-30.
The Bulldogs have eight days off for final exams and will next play Saturday, Dec. 17 when it hosts local school Marian at Hinkle Fieldhouse. That game is at 11 a.m.