Join Our Team!Sports Beat Writing Opportunities Available!

Butler Bulldogs Outlast Creighton in BIG EAST Battle

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs, coming off an embarrassing loss at home last Saturday against Xavier, rebounded in a revenge game against the Creighton Bluejays at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Tuesday night. A career-high 17 points from graduate transfer F Austin Etherington and a season-high 13 three-pointers catapulted Butler to an 88-75 BIG EAST Conference win. Etherington was one of five Bulldogs in double figures as Butler improves to 7-7 in BIG EAST play and 18-8 overall.

“I’m really proud of this effort,” said Butler Head Coach Chris Holtmann. “Our guys responded after a really bad showing on Saturday (against Xavier). I’m really pleased for Austin. He’s had really good energy off the bench for us these last few months. His leadership behind the scenes has been critical. Whether it’s a minute or 20 minutes a game, he just wants to win.”

The Bulldogs won the opening tip, but it was Creighton who scored first on a layup by junior G Maurice Watson Jr. Thankfully for the Bulldogs, sophomore G Kelan Martin came out of the gates locked and loaded from deep. Martin gave the Bulldogs an early 3-2 lead after connecting on a three and then hit another from downtown for the 6-5 lead. Redshirt senior G/F Roosevelt Jones turned a scrappy steal into a coast-to-coast one-handed slam dunk. Jones then weaved through two Creighton defenders to connect on an And-1 layup. The successful three-point play gave the Bulldogs an 11-5 lead with 14:24 remaining in the first half. Five straight points from Creighton junior F Cole Huff, including one make from distance, brought the Butler lead down to just one before graduate transfer F Austin Etherington nailed a three. The Etherington basket gave the Bulldogs a 14-10 lead with 11:43 remaining.

A 9-2 Butler run, including an ally-oop jam from sophomore F Tyler Wideman from Jones, pushed the Butler lead to 20-12, but Creighton continued to hit from distance as sophomore F Toby Hegner connected from deep. Thankfully for the Bulldogs, the red hot shooting from distance continued for Kelan Martin. Martin again hit two straight Butler makes from three, remaining a perfect 4-4 from behind the arc. Once again, Creighton was able to keep things in range as junior G Isaiah Zierden connected from deep. The Zierden three brought the game to 27-22. Butler led 29-24 with 3:53 remaining before the half at the media timeout.

With two free throws late in the first half (1,808), Butler senior G Kellen Dunham moved to fourth on the Butler All-Time Scoring List, passing A.J. Graves (1,807). Creighton brought the Butler lead down to four on two Zierden free throws with 2:58 remaining and once again on a Watson Jr. layup with 1:04 before the half. With 0:07 seconds remaining in the first half, Kellen Dunham connected on a three from the wing. It was his first field goal of the night, finishing the first half 1-of-7, including 1-of-5 from three. The Bulldogs entered the half with a 36-29 lead.

Sophomore G Kelan Martin led all scorers with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 from three. Butler held Creighton to 8-of-26 from the field and 4-of-13 from three, both equaling 30.8%. The Bulldogs finished the half shooting 13-of-35 (37.1%) from the field, including 6-of-16 from deep (37.5%). The Bulldogs scored eight points off of seven first half Creighton turnovers while only giving up four points off of four Butler miscues. Entering the half, the Bluejays had the free throw shooting percentage advantage, 9-of-12 (75%) to Butler’s 4-of-6 (66.7%).

The Bulldogs picked up right where they left off in the first half with deep shooting. Sophomore F Tyler Wideman opened the second half scoring with a reverse layup with the Kellen Dunham assist to push the lead to nine, 38-29. The Bluejays once again cut the lead to four, but Kellen Dunham quickly responded with his second three pointer of the game. Creighton was there again to respond as Zierden hit another from three. The Bulldogs barked back as Austin Etherington hit back-to-back threes to push the lead to 47-37 with 16:22 remaining in the game.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Austin Etherington (John Fetcho)
Photo: Butler Athletics/Austin Etherington (John Fetcho)

Creighton senior G James Milliken scored five straight points, including one make from three, to cut the Butler lead to three before Butler junior F Andrew Chrabascz scored on a layup followed by another Dunham three point splash. The bucket-trading game continued as Zierden knocked down his third three for Creighton. Austin Etherington responded with four straight Butler points and drained his fourth three-pointer to extend the Butler lead to 58-49 with 11:12 remaining in the game. The lead once again dipped below five for Butler as a Watson Jr. layup brought the game to 60-56 with 9:16 left to play. It was Roosevelt Jones this time to extend the lead as he connected on an And-1 layup and hit the free throw. Etherington continued his impressive play and proved he was more than just a jump-shooter posessions later for the Bulldogs. Etherington got the ball at the top of the wing, pump-faked and drove the lane for an emphatic left-handed jam. The Bulldogs led 65-58 with 7:51 remaining in the game following the Etherington slam.

A Creighton three-pointer from Cole Huff cut the Butler lead to eight, 71-63, with 5:22 on the clock. That would be as close as Creighton came to Butler for the remainder of the game. Two free throws from Etherington pushed the lead back to double digits, 73-63 with 4:56 remaining. A three-point desperation shot as the clock expired for Andrew Chrabascz pushed the lead to 79-66 with 3:12 remaining. Kellen Dunham hit his fourth from distance for Butler’s largest lead, 16 points at 84-68, with 1:46 on the clock. With the game decided, Creighton junior G Malik Albert scored the final two points of the game with :26 remaining. Butler walked away with an impressive 88-75 win at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Etherington had 14 points in the second half, sparking a Butler offense that scored at least 80 points for the fourth time in its last five games. Etherington finished 5-of-6 from the field, including 4-of-5 from three. His previous career-high was 11 points, set in his first game as a member of the Bulldogs (against Maine on Nov. 15, 2014).

Sophomore G Kelan Martin finished with a team high 21 points on 6-of-18 (33.3%) shooting, including 4-of-8 (50%) from three. Martin also had a team high eight rebounds. Senior G Kellen Dunham had 16 points on 5-of-13 (38.5%) shooting, including 4-of-8 (50%) from three, and a career-high six assists. He scored 11 in the second half and now has a career 1,822 points. Jones had 12 points and six assists. Sophomore F Tyler Wideman logged 10 points, which gave Butler five players in double figures for the seventh time this season. Wideman also had a game high four blocks. Creighton was led by Maurice Watson Jr. with a game high 22 points.

Butler finished the game 28-of-65 (43.1%) from the field, including 13-of-27 (48.1%) from three, and 19-of-24 (79.2%) from the free throw line. Creighton hit 23-of-55 (41.8%) from the field, 9-of-25 (36%) from three, and 20-of-26 (76.9%) from the charity stripe. Butler scored 16 points off of 11 Creighton turnovers while only committing six turnovers on the evening and giving up seven points off those miscues. Butler managed a slight 38-37 advantage on the boards. The Bulldogs assisted on 20 of their 28 field goals.

Butler travels to #1 Villanova Saturday. The 2:30 p.m. game will be broadcast nationally on FOX.

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

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.