A perfect record remains in-tact for the Butler Bulldogs (6-0, 0-0 Big East) as they overcome Ball State Women's Basketball (2-6, 0-0 MAC) by a score of 64-47 today in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Turnovers caused major problems for the Cardinals as they posted 29 throughout the game, joined by 31 percent from the field for the offense. Head coach Brady Sallee said it was toughness that decided the game.
“They took it right at us from the beginning,” Sallee said. “I think they out-toughed us in every category, mainly rebounding and forcing those turnovers.”
Another problem arose for the Cardinals in the form of Bulldog senior Whitney Jennings. While they were able to keep her quiet in the first half with only three points, Jennings managed to return in the second half and lead the Bulldogs with 20 points, 18 of which were from three-point field goals.
The Cardinals shot only 19 percent from the field in the first half, where the Bulldogs shot at 27 percent. Although the Cardinals’ turnover numbers were high, the Bulldogs also struggled in the same department, having registered 22 of their own on the day.
A cold start for the Cardinals saw the Bulldogs with a 9-1 run early in the first quarter. Junior Kristen Spolyar led the Bulldogs with a couple of early jumpers, while the Cardinals had yet to hit a field goal midway through the first. The Bulldogs’ four offensive rebounds, along with 10 Cardinal turnovers, gave them a 13-5 advantage at the end of the first.
Sophomore Maliah Howard-Bass brings the Cardinals within five with her second three of the game to start of the second quarter. But six points from Jennings pushed the Bulldog lead to 19-8, along with nine rebounds from senior Tori Schickel. The Cardinals found a spark in Howard-Bass and junior Aliyah Walker with consecutive layups from the pair.
“Maliah was one of the few that hit the shots for us today,” Sallee said. “She kept us hanging for a while and made some really big threes.”
Howard-Bass has been a dominating force on the Cardinal offense this season, her key role being displayed from behind the arc. After eight games, she has posted 13 three-point field goals on the season, nearing half of her total from last season.
The Bulldogs answered four foul calls with consecutive threes from senior Michelle Weaver and Jennings. The Cardinals continued to tack on turnovers, posting 21 by the end of the third.
Schickel’s fourth double-double accompanied by Jennings’ second game of the season with 20-plus points were key factors in the Bulldog victory, along with the errors on the Cardinals’ end.
“We just have to keep getting tougher,” Sallee said. “We have to put this one in the rearview mirror and get ready to play a tough SEC team Thursday and keep improving our toughness.”
The Cardinals will face Vanderbilt this coming Thursday in Worthen Arena.