Coral Gables, Fla. - A 13-0 run to start the second half, keyed by seven points from Lade Akande and a pair of treys from Tara Miller, helped the Bulldogs pull away for a 63-52 victory over Monmouth in the opening game of the University of Miami Thanksgiving Tournament on Friday (Nov. 23) at the BankUnited Center.
After ending the first stanza deadlocked at 26-26, Miller drained a three to open up the second frame to ignite the Bulldogs' offense. Akande followed with a three point play the old fashioned way, drawing a foul on a turn-around jumper and converting the bonus free throw.
Another jumper by Akande and a triple from Miller built the Butler lead to 10 before Akande buried a pair of free throws to put the Bulldogs in front 39-26.
Monmouth cut the lead to eight after a Veronica Randolph three-pointer brought the score to 41-33, but an ensuing 11-0 Butler run, coming on eight points from Candace Jones and a triple from Cassie Freeman, put the Bulldogs on top by their largest margin of the night at 52-33 with less than 11 minutes to play.
Butler jumped out to a 5-0 lead to start the game, as Miller hit a three and Akande added a lay-up for the early advantage.
The Bulldogs managed to keep the Hawks at bay in the opening minutes, building up a six-point lead at 18-12 with 10:49 to go, but Monmouth took advantage of four Butler turnovers in the next four minutes to ride a 10-0 run to a 22-18 lead with 6:41 remaining.
Candyce Brown provided a huge boost for the Bulldogs in the waning minutes of the first period, tying the game at 24-24 on a three-pointer and picking a Monmouth pass on the ensuing possession to help set up a pair of go-ahead free throws by Jones.
A lay-up by Randolph with 29 seconds remaining brought the match back to even heading into the locker room.
Akande went 6-for-11 in the game to finish with a team-high 15 points and added eight rebounds and a career-best four blocks. Jones added 12 points and a team-high six assists, while Mille chipped in nine points, all on three-pointers.
Bowen tallied a career-best eight rebounds in the game and added six points on a field goal and 4-for-4 shooting from the charity stripe. Freeman scored eight points on a pair of three-pointers, while Lester notched seven on 3-of-9 shooting from the field. Brown finished with a career-high four steals and posted five points.
The Bulldogs will take on either host Miami or Fordham in the tournament championship game on Saturday (Nov. 24) beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET.