BY MATTHEW VANTRYON | ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR
The story has been told time and time again this season. Butler (11-9, 1-7) had a lead, and let it slip away. The same was true Saturday afternoon, as what was at one point a double-digit lead turned into a 69-52 defeat at the hands of St. John’s (12-8, 2-5).
The first half was tightly contested. The opening period alone saw seven ties and 10 lead changes.
For a time, it appeared that the Bulldogs were poised to run away with the contest. Butler dominated the first few minutes of the opening period, jumping out to as much as a 10-point lead with 10 minutes to play in the half. Butler started the game shooting 7-for-9 from the field and made numerous stops on defense.
However, the tides turned for the latter portion of the period. St. John’s outscored the Bulldogs 26-9 down the stretch. What was once a 25-15 lead for Butler turned in a 41-34 deficit going into the second half.
Butler shot 62 percent from the floor in the half but committed six turnovers. The Red Storm scored seven points off the miscues.
Senior forward Khyle Marshall and sophomore guard Kellen Dunham netted 10 points apiece for the Bulldogs in the first half.
The second half started poorly for the Bulldogs, as they failed the score on their first five trips down the court. Meanwhile, the Red Storm opened the half on an 8-0 run and widened their lead to 15.
Butler was outscored 34-9 from the 10:06 mark in the first half, when they led by 10, to their first points in the second half.
Butler went on a 6-0 run with less than 10 minutes to play to cut the deficit to 57-50. However, St. John’s answered with an 8-0 run of its own to put the game out of reach.
Butler coach Brandon Miller attributed the loss to a lack of execution on the defensive end.
“We didn’t execute the way we needed to execute. Our defense wasn’t as good as it needed to be,” Miller said.
St. John’s finished the game on a 12-2 run.
Marshall and Dunham led the Bulldogs in scoring with 16 and 13 points, respectively. Freshman forward Andrew Chrabascz chipped in eight points in 21 minutes of action off the bench.
Marshall said this loss hurt just as much as the others, but added that continuing to make progress is crucial.
“All losses hurt no matter what the score is,” Marshall said. “We just have to continue to get better.
“I have all the confidence in our guys. Our guys still have hope, and our guys are still ready compete.”
Sophomore forward JaKarr Sampson scored a game-high 20 points for St. John’s.
Butler struggled from beyond the arc, hitting only one of eight 3-point attempts.
The Bulldogs also committed nine turnovers, which resulted in 11 points for the visitors.
The Bulldogs were outrebounded 32-24, and St. John’s scored 10 points off 10 offensive rebounds.
Butler’s 17-point margin of defeat was the greatest the team has seen since the 1993-1994 season.
Butler will begin a three-game road trip Wednesday night as the team travels to Seton Hall. Tip off is at 9 p.m.