Indianapolis, Ind. - Melanie Thornton led the way with 17 points and six boards, three others finished with double-figure scoring totals and Butler used a stifling defensive stand in the final 10 minutes of the opening period to pull away for a strong, 58-45, victory over Wright State on Friday (Feb. 6) evening at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
The Bulldogs shined brightly under the national spotlight in a game that was televised on ESPNU, as Butler hit 59 percent from the field in the first half while holding the Raiders without a field goal in the final 10 minutes of the period and without a point for the last eight and a half.
With the win, Butler improves to 13-8 on the season and 8-2 in Horizon League play, while Wright State drops to 10-11 overall and 6-4 in the conference.
The two squads battled through back-and-forth play in the opening minutes of the contest before the Bulldogs pulled out to a six-point edge thanks to a 4-for-4 effort from the field by Susan Lester, including a three-pointer at 12:52 of the period to give Butler a 13-7 advantage.
An ensuing lay-in by Lade Akande put the Bulldogs up by eight, but Wright State would respond with six-straight points, capped off by an Erica Richardson lay-up to cut the margin to 15-13 with 10:27 remaining.
Richardson's bucket would be the Raiders final field goal of the period, however, as Butler held WSU to 0-for-12 shooting from the field and just two makes from the free throw line over the last 10 minutes. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs would get all the offense they needed from Thornton and Brittany Bowen, as the former drained five-straight baskets to give Butler a 10 point advantage before the latter closed the period with a three-pointer and a pair of free throws to send the Bulldogs into the locker room with 30-15 lead.
Not much changed at the start of the second period, as Thornton hit both of her first two attempts of the period and added three of four shots from the line and Bowen drained another three to increase the Butler lead to 21 at 42-21 just over five minutes in. The margin would grow ever more just minutes later, as back-to-back lay-ups by Akande gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the contest at 49-23.
Wright State would try to climb back in the final 10 minutes of the game, trimming the gap down to 15 with just over six minutes remaining, but a lay-up by Lester, a pair of free throws by Bowen and a big three-pointer by Candyce Brown helped put the game out of reach.
Butler finished with a season-high 55 percent (22-for-40) shooting effort from the floor, including a 59.1 percent (13-for-22) mark in the opening stanza. The Bulldogs also added a season-best eight blocks.
Thornton converted each of her first seven attempts from the field to finish with a game-high 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting. Bowen added 12 points thanks to a 2-for-3 effort from three-point range and a 4-of-4 mark from the line and finished with five rebounds and a team-high five assists.
Lester chipped in 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting and five boards, while Akande rounded out the double-figure scorers, finishing with 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting and five rebounds.
Butler returns to action on Sunday (Feb. 8) when it hosts Detroit beginning at 2:00 p.m. at Hinkle Fieldhouse.