March 11, 2009
Indianapolis, Ind. - A 10-point Butler lead in the final minutes of the second half quickly turned to dust, as No. 7 seeded Milwaukee rode an improbable 11-0 run in the last three-and-a-half minutes to stun the host Bulldogs, 53-52, in the quarterfinals of the Horizon League Championship on Wednesday (March 11) evening at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Leading 52-42 with 3:30 to go in the second half, Butler appeared to be in prime position to pick up its 20th win of the season and advance to the semifinals of the league tournament.
Milwaukee had other ideas, however, as the Panthers' Lindsay Laur hit a jumper, lay-up and bonus free throw within a 23-second span to pull Milwaukee to within five with 2:29 to go. Following a 30 second time-out by the Bulldogs, the Panthers forced a quick turnover and converted a lay-in to close the gap to three (52-49) with just under two minutes remaining.
Butler had its chances to extend the margin in the closing minutes, but a pair of free throw attempts and a lay-up opportunity missed their marks and left the Bulldogs empty handed as Traci Edwards hit back-to-back buckets to put Milwaukee in front with nine seconds left.
The Bulldogs' attempt for a last-second win would fall short, as a running jumper by Terra Burns sailed wide as the final horn sounded.
A fast start to the contest saw Butler jump out to as much as a five-point edge in the early going. Four points by Brittany Bowen and two by both Candyce Brown and Melanie Thornton helped the Bulldogs out to a 9-4 lead at the start.
The Panthers battled back and took a two point lead less than five minutes later, but lay-ups by Thornton and Candace Jones bookended by a pair of threes from Bowen keyed a 10-4 surge that put Butler back in front, 19-15, with 7:22 remaining in the half.
Milwaukee responded once again, rebounding back to a three-point margin in the waning seconds of the period, but a jumper by Brown with 12 ticks on the clock put the Bulldogs within prime striking distance at 27-26 heading into the break.
Butler came out firing at the start of the second, as Burns and Bowen connected on threes in the opening minutes before another triple by Susan Lester put the Bulldogs on top by seven at 41-34 with just over six minutes gone. The lead would grow to 10 moments later, as Lester drained yet another three-pointer to give Butler a 48-38 margin with 9:05 on the clock.
The Panthers cut the difference down to six, but a pair of makes from the line by Bowen followed by a tough jumper by Lade Akande put the Bulldogs back in front by 10 at 52-42 with 3:30 to play - setting up the surreal final stretch of the game.
Bowen led the team with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor and a 3-for-5 mark from beyond the arc. Lester finished just shy of a double-double with nine points and eight boards, while Akande chipped in seven points. Burns posted a career-best seven assists.
The decision on Butler's post season fate will have to wait until Monday (March 16) evening, when the 48-team field for the 2009 WNIT will be selected following the NCAA Tournament selection.