February 25, 2006

Butler Drops Senior Day Decision, 79-67, to UW-Green Bay

Feb. 25, 2006

Box Score

Visiting UW-Green Bay used 29 combined second-half points from juniors Nicole Soulis and Natalie Berglin to post a 79-67 win over Butler Saturday afternoon in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Junior Jackie Closser led the Bulldogs with 17 points. With the win, UWGB improves to 22-5 overall and claims a share of the Horizon League regular season title at 14-2 in conference. Butler ends the regular season at 14-13 (9-7).

"I'm proud of the effort by our team today," said Butler coach Beth Couture. "It came down to us making mental errors down the stretch and Green Bay capitalizing on them. Berglin and Soulis really took over in the second half. We're going to bounce back from this. One of our goals this season was to host a quarterfinal tournament game and we've accomplished that. Now it's our job to get ready for Detroit on Wednesday."

With healthy seniors Nikki Budgake, Gina Grussing and Jessica Smart in the starting line-up, Butler jumped out to an 8-0 lead behind a pair of Ellen Hamilton three-pointers in the opening minutes. After UWGB fought back to take a 12-11 lead, the teams traded baskets for much of the final 14 minutes of the half with neither team able to extend its lead past four points. Cassie Freeman's lay-up off an in-bounds play at the first half horn sent the teams into the locker room tied at 34.

Butler opened the second half with a Closser three-pointer and led 39-36 with 18:32 to play after the teams traded baskets. Berglin then tied the contest at 39 with a trey of her own and the Phoenix followed that with six more points for a 45-39 advantage with 15:34 to play. The margin stayed around five until Closser drained a three-pointer with 10:42 to play that pulled the Bulldogs within two at 53-51. UWGB then stymied the Butler offense over the next five minutes, using a 12-3 run to push the advantage to 11 at 65-54 after a Soulis three-pointer with 5:56 to play. Butler could get no closer than seven down the stretch.

Soulis led the visitors with 26 points and six rebounds, while Berglin added 23 points and five assists. The Phoenix shot 55 percent for the game, including 60 percent in the second half. The difference came at the free throw line where UWGB went 18-19 compared to just nine attempts for the Bulldogs. The Phoenix committed just nine turnovers, while forcing Butler into 18.

In addition to Closser's 17 points and seven assists, Lade Akande and Ellen Hamilton each had 12 points, but just seven of those 24 points came after the intermission. Akande had a game-high seven rebounds. Junior Carla Gheorghe came off the bench for eight points. Butler shot 48 percent and went 11-of-24 from behind the arc. Each team had 24 rebounds.

Butler honored its four seniors--Budgake, Grussing, Smart and injured co-captain Stephanie Boeke--in a pre-game ceremony along with four-year student play-by-play announcer Josh Rattray.

Butler finishes the league regular season at 9-7, good for fourth place in the final standings. The Bulldogs will host fifth-seeded Detroit Wednesday (March 1) in a Horizon League quarterfinal contest at 7 p.m. in Hinkle Fieldhouse. The game is a day earlier than the other three quarterfinal league contests due to former president George H. W. Bush speaking at Hinkle Fieldhouse Thursday evening. Live video of the quarterfinal contest will be available live on both www.butlersports.com and www.horizonleague.com.