Valparaiso, Ind. - Butler cut a 10-point halftime deficit to just two late in the second period, but host Valparaiso converted 11 of 12 free throws in the final minutes to hold on for a 77-69 decision at the Athletics-Recreation Center on Saturday (Jan. 5).
The Bulldogs (10-2, 0-1 Horizon League) had to overcome a sluggish first half on the defensive end, as Valpo (6-6, 1-0 HL) shot 59.1 percent from the field while holding Butler to 35.7 percent to take a 37-27 advantage at the break.
The shots began to fall for the Bulldogs at the start of the second as Butler attempted to rally back in the early going, but the Crusaders seemed to have an answer for every make and continued to hold a 10-point margin with less than 10 minutes to play.
A 10-2 run by the Bulldogs over the next five minutes, keyed by six points from Tara Miller, four from Candace Bain and a strong defensive stand, brought Butler to within two at 61-59 with 4:39 to go, but an ensuing 5-0 surge by Valpo helped to keep the Crusaders in front by no less than four the rest of the way.
The Bulldogs erupted for 42 points in the second period, going 16-for-31 from the field (51.6 percent) to finish with a 26-for-59 mark (44.1 percent) in the contest. The Crusaders, however, would trump the Butler effort with a 50 percent rate from the field (22-for-44), a 57.1 percent mark for three (8-for-14) and a 92.6 clip from the line (25-of-27).
Lade Akande led the Bulldogs with 16 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the field, while Miller posted 15 points on 4-for-8 shooting and a 7-for-7 mark from the line and a team-best four assists.
Valpo's Agnieszka Kulaga paced all scorers with 29 points on 9-for-15 shooting from the field and an 8-for-8 clip from the line.
The Bulldogs continue the Horizon League slate on Thursday (Jan. 10) when the open a two-game road swing through Chicago with an 8:00 p.m. ET contest at Loyola.