BY MATTHEW VANTRYON | STAFF REPORTER
Butler closed out its non-conference schedule with a 66-48 win over independent New Jersey Institute of Technology Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs (10-2) began the game nearly perfect on the offensive end, shooting 5-6 to start. Butler never trailed in the contest.
Senior forward Khyle Marshall scored a game-high 21 points. Freshman guard Rene Castro added a season-high 10 points.
Butler coach Brandon Miller praised Castro’s play, and attributed it to his preparation in practice.
“I think it’s a reflection of how he’s practiced,” Miller said. “He’s been focused in, he’s a detail oriented kid in practice, and it’s carried over and he’s shown that in the past two games.”
The Bulldogs showed a variety of lineups in the game, as the bench saw 57 minutes of action and scored 14 points, led by Castro.
Junior forward Kameron Woods, who leads the Big East in rebounds, grabbed eight in the first half and for a total of 12 in the contest. He averages 9.5 rebounds per game.
The Bulldogs dominated on the inside, scoring 36 points in the paint.
Butler struggled controlling the ball in the opening period, committing six turnovers.
Butler took a 29-16 lead into halftime, aided largely by a struggling Highlanders (6-9) offense. NJIT shot just over 20 percent in the first half.
Marshall and Castro scored eight points apiece in the opening half.
The visiting Highlanders shot 30 percent in the contest.
The Bulldogs continued to stretch their lead in the second half, leading by as many as 19 with 15 minutes to play.
The Bulldogs controlled the ball much more effectively in the second half, committing only three turnovers.
Butler will face a more formidable opponent in its next contest when No. 8 Villanova travels to Butler on New Year’s Eve to open conference play.
Miller said despite the increase in competition, the team will not overemphasize one game.
“I don’t think you ever take one game and say, ‘There’s the measuring stick for the way we’re going to play for the next 17 games,’” Miller said.
Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The game will also be broadcast nationally by Fox Sports 1.