Men’s basketball: Team getting hot late in season

The Butler men’s basketball team pushed its winning streak to three games last night by defeating Loyola of Chicago 63-57.

The victory moved the Bulldogs (16-12, 10-6) past Detroit and into third place in the Horizon League.

Four Butler players finished in double-digits. Sophomore guard Chrishawn Hopkins led the way with 13 points and six
rebounds.

Loyola junior forward Ben Averkamp led all scorers with 23 points and six rebounds for the Ramblers (6-19, 1-14).

The Bulldogs started strong, shooting 58 percent from the field on their way to a 13-point lead— the largest of the game— with 2:27 left in the opening half.

Butler went cold from that point on, allowing the Ramblers to come back and tie the game at 44 with 7:52 to play.

“I thought [Loyola’s] 6-0 run at the end of the [first] half really hurt us,” coach Brad Stevens said. “Then I thought we were too passive the first 10 minutes of the second half.

“I think your aggression leads to better offensive play, and I didn’t think we were the more aggressive team at that moment.”

Foul shots made by junior center Andrew Smith and Hopkins gave Butler a 47-44 advantage.

Sophomore forward Khyle Marshall, who scored 12 points, added two key baskets that brought the momentum back to the Bulldogs, who held on to the lead for the remainder of the game.

“[Marshall] makes [passing to him] easy just because he’s ridiculously athletic,” senior guard Ronald Nored said. “So if you just throw it anywhere close to the rim, he’s probably going to dunk it.

“He also does a good job of finding spots where he can be open.”

Nored finished the contest with nine assists—a game-high.

Aside from Averkamp, the Ramblers struggled to score.

Loyola’s other four starters tallied 24 points combined and the team shot 22.2 percent from beyond the arc.

The Bulldogs also shot nearly 10 percent better from the field than the Ramblers.

“I told our guys in the locker room that it’s hard to win a basketball game,” Stevens said, “and you always need to remember that, understand that and come into the game thinking that.”

Prior to taking on Loyola, Butler closed its two-game Ohio road trip with a key victory over then-Horizon League leading Cleveland State.

Freshman forward Roosevelt Jones’ career high 17 points led the way in the Bulldogs’ 52-49 victory over the Vikings (20-6, 10-4).

Cleveland State freshman forward Anton Grady led the Vikings with 18 points and 13 rebounds on his way to a double-double, but it was not enough to overcome stifling defense by the Bulldogs (15-12, 9-6).

Butler held a 28-18 lead at halftime, in large part to Cleveland State’s 24.1 percent shooting from the field.

The Vikings’ three-point shooting kept them in it, as the team shot 5-for-10 from beyond the arc in the second half after not making a single three-point field goal in the first half.

The Vikings tied the game at 34 with 12:55 remaining. The teams then exchanged the lead six times before the end of the contest.

With the game tied at 49 and with 1:39 remaining in the game, Hopkins hit a jump shot that would give Butler the lead for good.

Marshall returned for the Bulldogs after a two-game absence due to concussion-like symptoms. He scored 12 points and added eight rebounds off the bench.

On Thursday night, Butler defeated Youngstown State 68-59 to start its road trip on the right foot.

Hopkins led the Bulldogs with 19 points, scoring 13 in the second half to help suppress a comeback by the Penguins (14-11, 9-6).

Butler led by as many as 14 points early in the second half, only to have Youngstown State cut the lead to four points with about 12 minutes remaining in the game.

Freshman guard Jackson Aldridge tied his career high of 15 points while going 3-for-5 from beyond the arc for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs will continue their schedule at home on Saturday against Indiana State at 2 p.m.

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