INDIANAPOLIS – Butler held off a second half rally against Seton Hall on Saturday to secure a 74-72 victory at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The win brings the Bulldogs overall record to 14-14, which includes a 9-8 mark in the BIG EAST Conference.
The victory over the Pirates gives Butler the season sweep over Seton Hall, but more importantly puts Butler two games ahead of Seton Hall with just one game remaining in the regular season. With the win, Butler secured at least the sixth seed in the tournament which automatically moves them into the quarterfinals.
The Bulldogs led 34-29 at halftime, but Seton Hall's full-court pressure allowed the Pirates to storm out to a 52-46 lead with 11:01 remaining in regulation. Butler responded with a 21-6 run of their own, led by junior center Liz Stratman.
Facing foul trouble, the Pirates responded again, scoring ten points in the final minute of play, but the Bulldogs sank a series of free throws to hang on for the victory.
Stratman led the Bulldogs with a career-high 28 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks. Butler also received boosts from senior forward Daress McClung who poured in 14 points, five assists, four rebounds, and three blocks. Fellow senior Mandy McDivitt did her part with eight points and four assists. McClung, McDivitt and Sarah Hamm were all recognized pre-game as a part of Senior Day.
Butler started off the game hot, hitting seven of their first eight attempts and opening with a 13-2 run. Leading 19-9 with 12:06 remaining in the first half, the Bulldogs were held scoreless for almost six minutes as Seton Hall enjoyed a run of their own to bring the game within two points. Butler finished the half on a 14-11 run, entering halftime with a five point lead.
Seton Hall got within two points in the first half, but never led. Their first advantage of the day came early in the second half after a layup from Alexis Brown. The Pirates held a second half lead from 14:33 to 9:17 on the play clock, but Butler would regain the momentum with a layup from Howard just under the nine minute mark. Butler never trailed from that point forward.
Junior forward Haley Howard came up big with seven points in each half, ending the game with 14 points and six rebounds. Lexus Murry was also an impact player as she tied her career-high with seven assists.
Seton Hall was led by Ka-Deidre Simmons who paced the group with 24 points five assists and four steals. The Pirates also had two players reach a double figure rebound total with Bra'Shey Ali grabbing 13 and Janee Johnson in the books with 10.
Butler will return to the court early next week as they face Creighton in the 2013-14 regular season finale. The game will be played at D.J. Sokol Arena on Tuesday, March 4. Tip-off is slated for 8:05 p.m.
Contact: Mike Murtaugh (email@example.com)