Nov. 29, 2008
Albuquerque, N.M. - Butler rallied from an 11-point first-half deficit to take as much as a six-point advantage late in the second period over William and Mary, but a costly dry spell in the final five minutes of play allowed the Tribe to regain the lead and hold on for a 53-50 decision in the consolation game of the Holiday Inn & Suites Express Midtown Thanksgiving Tournament on Saturday (Nov. 29) evening at The Pit.
Susan Lester finished a rebound shy of her second double-double of the year, Melanie Thornton led the team in rebounds for the fifth time in as many games with 10 and the Bulldogs perimeter offense tied their season-high with five three-pointers.
A three-pointer by Tara Miller gave Butler its largest lead of the night at 49-43 with 6:20 to go in the second half, but the Tribe would ride a 10-1 surge over the next six minutes - including a go-ahead lay-up and two clutch free throws by Kelly Heath - to take a 53-50 edge with 15 seconds remaining.
Butler had its chances to tie, as a three-point attempt by Lester missed the mark with three seconds left before Miller corralled a rebound and dished to Brittany Bowen, whose desperation trey attempt hit off the iron as time expired.
Things did not look good for the Bulldogs in the early going, as William and Mary opened up the contest on an 11-0 run before a lay-up by Thornton put Butler on the board.
Thornton's make started what turned out to be a 15-3 Butler rally, as a pair of lay-ins and four free throws from Lester helped the Bulldogs take a 15-14 edge with just over eight minutes to go in the frame.
The Tribe countered with a 12-1 run of their own to give themselves a commanding 10-point margin at 26-16 less than four minutes later before heading into the locker room with a 30-23 advantage.
The Butler offense started clicking on all cylinders at the start of the second, as Bowen hit back-to-back lay-ups, Lade Akande added another and Devin Brierly drained a triple to lead a four-minute, 9-2 surge that brought the scoring back to even at 32-32.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Miller and Brierly less than two minutes later put the Bulldogs ahead by five at 40-35, but an ensuing four-minute Butler dry spell coupled with five points from the Tribe knotted the game back up at 40 midway through the period.
Butler surged on offense once again, riding a 9-3 jaunt - capped by another triple from Miller - to go up by six at 49-43 with just over six minutes remaining, but William and Mary would limit the Bulldogs to just one point the rest of the way while rallying for 10 points of its own to come behind for the win.
Butler held a 40-to-38 advantage on rebounds - including an 18-to-10 margin on offensive boards - while turning 23 Tribe turnovers into 22 points.
Lester led the squad on offense with 13 points and added nine rebounds, while Thornton pulled-in a team-best 10 rebounds and forced four steals. Bowen also finished in double-figure scoring with 12 points on 5-fror-16 shooting.
Akande finished with five rebounds in the contest, giving her 603 in her career and making her just the fourth player in Butler history to record over 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 100 blocks in her career.
Butler returns to action on Wednesday (Dec. 3) when it heads to Evansville, Ind., for an 8:00 p.m. ET (7:00 p.m. CT) meeting with the Purple Aces.