March 5, 2006
Molly O'Brien collected a long rebound and went coast-to-coast for a contested lay-in that gave UW-Milwaukee a come-from-behind 58-57 win over Butler in the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament. The fourth-seeded Bulldogs held an 11-point lead with 7:26 to play, but the top-seeded Panthers chipped away at the lead and held Butler scoreless over the last four minutes of the game for the win Sunday at the Klotsche Center in Milwaukee. UWM improves to 21-8 and will appear in Monday's championship game. Butler ends its season at 15-14.
"We played extremely hard today," said Butler coach Beth Couture. "This came down to offensive execution down the stretch and we didn't make shots when we needed to. I'm proud of our kids for how they battled. Right now it's just disappointing."
Freshman Lade Akande had 23 points and 11 rebounds for Butler, her 13th game with more than 20 points and her eighth double-double of the season. Junior Jackie Closser added 18 points on 4-of-6 accuracy from three-point range. The duo combined for 41 of the team's 57 points.
After taking a slim 26-25 advantage into halftime, Butler found itself down 37-34 with 13:30 remaining in the second half. The Bulldogs then unleashed 19-5 run to take a 53-42 lead after a Closser trey with 7:26 to play. Butler only scored four more points, as UWM started a comeback.
Up 57-56, Butler had the ball with 40 seconds to play. After the shot clock dwindled, O'Brien corralled a long rebound off a Butler miss and went the length of the floor to give UWM a 58-57 lead with five seconds remaining. Butler called a timeout and set up a play for Closser. The 5-5 guard dribbled the length of the floor, but her pass to Akande underneath the basket was unsuccessful and the horn sounded.
Butler shot 48 percent from the field, including 7-of-12 from three-point range. The Bulldogs hit only 8-of-15 free throws and committed 15 turnovers. Candace Jones added six points off the bench for the Bulldogs.
UW-Milwaukee shot 42 percent from the field, but out-rebounded the visitors, 35-26, using 14 offensive caroms to attempts 14 more shots than Butler. O'Brien led four Panthers in double figures with 14 points. Butler held Horizon League "Newcomer of the Year" Traci Edwards to just three attempts and six points.