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No. 20/22 Butler Bulldogs Beat Temple in Semifinals Round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The #20/22 Butler Bulldogs relied on tough defense and solid free throw shooting on Friday afternoon to push by the Temple Owls and advance to the championship game of the 2015 Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan. The Bulldogs limited Temple to a 38% shooting performance in the 74-69 win and connected on 21-of-25 free throws. The Bulldogs improve to 3-0 on the season while Temple falls to 1-2, with both losses coming at the hands of ranked opponents.

“I’m really proud of our guys,” said Butler Head Coach Chris Holtmann. “We had a few rough spots as we expected we would. We anticipated a tough game and that’s what we got. Temple is a good team. They are tough and smart, and they will have a good season.”

Butler advances to the championship game of the in-season tournament, and will play either Utah or Miami (Fla.). Those teams play later in the evening Friday. Sunday’s championship game is set for 7:30 p.m. (Eastern, 8:30 p.m. in San Juan), and can be seen on ESPN2. Mark Minner and Nick Gardner will have the call on 1070 The Fan and 93.5 FM.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Kelan Martin (Matt Michel)
Photo: Butler Athletics/Kelan Martin (Matt Michel)

Senior G Kellen Dunham and redshirt junior PG Tyler Lewis led the Bulldogs with 16 points apiece, two of four players in double figures. It was an uncharacteristic night for each as Dunham fought through a 5-of-20 shooting effort, while Lewis, coming off a 10-assist performance the day before against Missouri State, did not register a helper. Dunham had a career-high five assists and Lewis made all eight of his free throw attempts.

Temple jumped out to an early 12-2 advantage and saw its largest lead of the game at 21-9 with just under 11 minutes remaining in the first half. A 13-2 run keyed by five points from sophomore F Tyler Wideman helped pull Butler within a single point at 23-22 four minutes later. Butler would take the lead for the first time on a Dunham three-pointer at 27-26. Other than a 31-all tie with less than a minute to play in the first half, Butler would never trail again as a 35-31 halftime lead led to a hard-fought win.

Fourteen of Lewis’s points came in the second half as he hit two key three-pointers sandwiched around a pair of Wideman free throws to turn a 50-48 lead into a 58-50 edge with seven minutes remaining.

“We learned some things about our team today,” said Holtmann. “I thought we responded well to some adversity that we hadn’t seen yet this season. Kelan (Martin) and Tyler (Wideman) provided good energy for us after we got popped in those first few minutes of the game. (Kellen) is an elite shooter who had an off-day, but he made a lot of good plays for us today.”

Wideman had nine points and six rebounds to go along with four blocks. Redshirt senior G/F Roosevelt Jones had his second double-double of the young season and his third double-digit rebounding performance with 12 points, 11 rebounds and four assists before fouling out just under three minutes to play. Junior F Andrew Chrabascz paired a career-high 10 rebounds with 13 points for his first career double-double. Sophomore G Kelan Martin had eight points and nine rebounds, with a majority of that coming in the first half.

Butler shot only 36% for the game, but countered that by committing only five turnovers. Temple only had seven miscues. Butler had a 21-8 advantage in made free throws which went a long way in determining the outcome.

Quenton DeCosey had a game-high 24 points for Temple to go along with 10 rebounds. Jaylen Bond had 13 points and 13 boards, but the Bulldogs had a 47-41 edge in rebounding.

Temple will play the loser of tonight’s Miami-Utah game for third place on Sunday.

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

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