Feb. 26, 2009
Indianapolis, Ind. - Brittany Bowen tallied 20 points, Melanie Thornton and Susan Lester added double-figure scoring totals and the Bulldogs used a solid 84-percent effort from the free throw line to help edge out Milwaukee, 74-71, in an overtime thriller on Thursday (Feb. 26) evening at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
A game that featured 11 ties and lead changes needed more than the 40 minutes of regulation to be decided, as the Bulldogs rallied back from a four-point deficit late in the second half to force the extra period before using three clutch three-point plays and a 6-for-6 effort from the line to help secure the win.
A long-range shot by Candace Jones put the Bulldogs in front by three at 66-63 with less than a minute and a half gone in the extra frame before the Panthers got back-to-back buckets to swing a one point margin in their favor.
Thornton would respond with an old-fashioned trey with a lay-up and bonus free throw to give the Bulldogs a two-point edge before a jumper by Traci Edwards brought the bout back to even. Bowen followed Thornton's lead moments later, however, laying in the go-ahead basket, drawing a foul and converting the bonus free throw to push Butler out to a 72-69 advantage with 1:37 to play.
After a sturdy defensive stand by Butler, Milwaukee would draw to within one after Jodie McClain drained a pair of free throws with 22 seconds left. The Panthers quickly fouled Candyce Brown to stop the clock and send the Butler senior to the line, where she calmly netted both attempts to extend the Bulldog lead.
The Butler defense that has guided it all season long came up big from there, as the Panthers were unable to get a clean look at the basket for the final 20 seconds before the clock expired.
The win sends Butler to 17-9 on the year and 12-3 in the Horizon League, while the Panthers drop to 12-15 overall and 7-9 in conference.
After playing through a tightly-contested opening 10 minutes, the Bulldogs used a 12-2 run - keyed by a pair of three pointers by Tara Miller - to turn a 10-9 margin into an 11-point Butler lead at 22-11 with 6:36 to go in the period.
A trey by Brown moments later helped to extend the lead to 12 at 27-15 with just over four minutes left, but a 10-4 surge by the Panthers in the final minutes cut the difference in half heading into the break.
The Butler lead would disappear completely early in the second period, as Milwaukee knotted the contest up at 37 just six minutes in before building up a four-point advantage with just over nine to go.
Milwaukee maintained a four-point advantage with less than five on the clock before the Bulldogs rallied back, as Lester converted four-straight attempts from the line to even the scoring before Terra Burns banked in a lay-up to put Butler back on top at 57-55 with 3:21 remaining.
UWM reclaimed a two-point edge with less than a minute to go, but Thornton drilled a clutch game-tying jumper with 34 seconds left to even the scoring at 61.
The Panthers had a chance to play for the lead in the waning seconds before an offensive foul gave the ball back to the Bulldogs with six seconds left and a chance for the regulation win, but a running shot in traffic by Burns would miss its mark at time expired.
Butler's 26-for-31 (83.9 percent) effort from the free throw line proved to be the difference in the contest, as Milwaukee hit 21-of-29 (72.4) in the contest while holding a decisive 53-to-34 margin on the glass.
The Bulldogs took advantage of 21 Panther turnovers, converting them into 24 points, while allowing just 12 in the contest themselves.
Bowen went 7-for-15 from the field and 5-for-5 from the line to lead the Bulldogs with 20 points and added six boards, three assists and two steals. Thornton posted 14 points and a team-high seven rebounds, while Lester finished with 11 points - including a 6-for-6 mark from the stripe - and six rebounds.
Miller added nine points off the bench thanks to a pair of threes, while Burns went 4-of-4 from the line to finish with eight points.
Butler returns to action on Saturday (Feb. 28) when it hosts league-leading Green Bay beginning at 4:00 p.m. at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Prior to the game, the Bulldogs will recognize their four senior members - Lade Akande, Candyce Brown, Candace Jones and Tara Miller - in their final regular season home game.