Butler was dunking, Matt Howard dove into the opponent’s bench, and seven different Bulldogs scored at least eight points in Saturday’s 76-59 win against Valparaiso.
The win was Butler’s 22nd consecutive Horizon League regular season win, a new record for the conference.
And the Bulldogs (10-4, 2-0 HL), now on a six-game winning streak, will look to extend that record Monday as they begin the week’s three-game conference stretch.
Butler picked up where it left off at the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu by getting multiple players involved on offense. When the opponent tried to stop a Bulldog from scoring, others scored in their stead.
The Crusaders (10-5, 2-1 HL) did their best to stop Howard from scoring, allowing him only eight points in the game, although the senior forward still managed to grab eight rebounds.
But others scored while Howard was being pressured or double-teamed.
Guard and fellow senior Zach Hahn made three-of-six 3-point shots for his nine points, and senior Shawn Vanzant and junior Ronald Nored each scored 11 on a combined eight-of-15 shooting from the field.
Freshman forward Khyle Marshall continued his stretch of improved play by scoring 10 points, making it his first double-digit performance as a Bulldog.
Junior guard Shelvin Mack led all scorers with 16 points. Mack shot four-of-eight from the field while also grabbing four rebounds and dishing out six assists.
Butler dominated both ends of the court in the first half, shooting 12-of-28 from the field and forcing nine Crusader turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
Mack led the Bulldogs on offense with seven points at the half, while Nored led things on the defensive end by getting three of his four steals in the game prior to the break.
Valparaiso did not roll over for the second half, though.
The Crusaders shot six-of-14 from behind the arc after halftime and were led in that category by freshman guard Jay Harris, who had zero points in the first half and 14 in the second.
But after Valpo shaved a double-digit deficit down to five points, Butler responded with a flurry of three-pointers and finally a perfect eight-for-eight free throw shooting to close out the game.
Butler’s first of three Horizon League games in the coming week is at Milwaukee (7-8, 2-2 HL) at 8 p.m. EDT.