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Butler Earns First BIG EAST Win against Marquette

Chris Fultz
ISR Butler Beat Writer

INDIANAPOLIS, IN– It might have taken an extra period, but the Butler Bulldogs finally managed to pull out on top as they picked up their first BIG EAST Conference win of the season. Butler rallied behind sophomore guard Kellen Dunham, who finished with 18 points and a pair of rebounds, to pull out a 69-57 overtime victory over the visiting Marquette Golden Eagles at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday (Jan. 18). The victory breaks a five game skid for the Bulldogs, bringing their record to 11-7 overall and 1-5 in conference.

Photo: Butler Athletics/ Kameron Woods (John Fetcho)
Photo: Butler Athletics/ Kameron Woods (John Fetcho)

Butler trailed by as many as 12 in the second half before the Bulldogs began their rally on a key 3-point jumper from freshman guard Elijah Brown early in the second period. They eventually gained their first lead of the half on a basket from Dunham with 4:05 remaining in regulation. After the Bulldogs led by as many as four in the closing minutes, Marquette (10-8, 2-3 BIG EAST) pulled within two on a dunk from forward Jamil Wilson and tied the game on a pair of free throws from guard Jake Thomas with five seconds left in the second half, forcing yet another overtime.

The win marks Butler’s sixth overtime game of the season, inching closer to the school record for overtime games in a season from 1996-97, when the Bulldogs played in seven extra period games.

The Bulldogs opened the extra period on two quick baskets from Dunham and junior forward Kameron Woods, who had nine points and six rebounds in overtime alone. Butler outscored the Golden Eagles 20-8 in the extra period, and shot 12 of 15 from the free throw line to seal the win.

Woods finished with 14 rebounds, tying a career high, and 16 points, marking his fifth double-double of the season and ninth double-double of his career. The performance also marks Woods’ fourth game in a row in double digit rebounding.

“We had to come back in the second half of the game, and I thought our team defense in the second half was the story of the game,” said Butler coach Brandon Miller. “Our ability to get stops, our ability to get first-time rebounds. I’m extremely happy for our guys. I’m proud of our guys and their ability to execute on that end of the floor, especially at the end of the game, and especially in crunch time.”

The Bulldogs were boosted by performances from both senior forward Khyle Marshall and Erik Fromm. Marshall finished with a tied game high18 points, and Fromm added 8 points on 2-4 shooting from downtown. Junior guard Alex Barlow also added 4 steals for Butler.

Although the Bulldogs ended up victorious, they were almost sunk by their struggles at the free throw line. Butler went 15-29 (51.7%) from the line. Thankfully, they managed to outshoot Marquette from the field, going 24-58 (41.4%) to 20-65 (30.8%).

The Bulldogs will continue BIG EAST play on the road on Tuesday, Jan. 21, at Providence.

Chris Fultz is the Butler beat writer for the Indy Sports Report. Follow Chris and the Indy Sports Report on Twitter.