INDIANAPOLIS, IN – After a tough loss on the road to Georgetown, the Butler Bulldogs bounced back and took care of business against the Creighton Blue Jays at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler, leading nearly the entire game, had to come from behind in the final minute and needed clutch free throws down the stretch to pull out a 64-61 BIG EAST Conference victory over Creighton on Wednesday (Jan. 21). The win, Butler’s first over the Blue Jays in 81 years, lifted the Bulldogs to 14-6 on the season and 4-3 in the BIG EAST.
Creighton (9-11, 0-7 BIG EAST) rallied from a nine-point deficit in the final five minutes and took a 59-57 lead on a pair of free throws by James Milliken with two minutes left. Butler’s junior guard Roosevelt Jones, who led all players in the game with 18 points, cut the Blue Jays’ margin to a single point with 1-of-2 free throws 30 second later, and then sophomore forward Andrew Chrabascz hit a lay-up to give Butler the lead back, 60-59, with 0:53 remaining.
The outcome was still in doubt when senior forward Kameron Woods pulled down an offensive rebound and was fouled with 11 seconds remaining. The 6-9 forward stepped to the line and calmly sank both to give Butler a 62-59 advantage. Creighton’s Toby Hegner and Butler’s Alex Barlow then traded free throws in the last six seconds for the final margin.
“How proud can you be of a senior who steps up and hits two big free throws,” Butler Head Coach Chris Holtmann said of the clutch performance by Woods. “I don’t think either one hit rim. That’s a huge, huge moment for him, and a huge play. Not to mention what got him the two free throws, which was the offensive rebound. Really, really proud of him and happy for him in that moment.”
Butler never trailed in the first half, leading by as many as 10 points midway through the opening period and 35-27 at halftime. Creighton made several runs, but the Bulldogs always came up with an answer, despite shooting just 38.7% (12-31) from the field in the first half.
The Bulldogs’ shooting didn’t improve in the second half, but the home squad still held the upper hand through most of the final period, thanks largely to a solid effort on the offensive boards and an ability to force turnovers. Butler had 15 second chance points in the game, and 21 points off turnovers.
Woods hit a jump shot with 5:34 left to give Butler a 57-48 lead, but Creighton stormed back to tie the game with a 9-0 run on a conventional three-point play by Milliken, and three-point field goals by Rick Kreklow and Milliken, setting the stage for Butler’s closing act.
“As I said to the guys in the locker room, I was really proud of our resilience in the last few minutes when they made their run and we didn’t get back in transition like we need to,” stated Holtmann. “There’s a lot we can learn from this and we need to learn from it, and I’d rather learn from a win.”
Woods finished with 12 points, five rebounds, four blocked shots and a steal. His numbers were topped by Jones, who led Butler in scoring for the third straight game. The 6-4 guard led the Bulldogs with 10 rebounds and six assists, and he added three blocked shots and a steal in 39 minutes. Chrabascz finished with 13 points, including a 2-of-6 shooting performance from three.
Kreklow came off the bench to lead Creighton with 16 points, while Milliken added 10. Guard Devin Brooks finished with seven points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
The victory snapped Creighton’s five-game winning-streak over the Bulldogs. Butler had not beaten the Blue Jays since February of 1934.
The Bulldogs will continue their homestand on Sunday (Jan. 25) with a game against #24 Seton Hall. That BIG EAST contest at Hinkle Fieldhouse is slated to start at 3 p.m.
Chris Fultz is a senior writer for the Indiana Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler Athletics and has full media access. Follow @CafultzISR and the @IndySportsRep on Twitter.
Chris Fultz is a Senior Writer and the Butler Athletics beat writer for the Indiana Sports Report. Chris Fultz is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler University Athletics and has full media access.
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