The team sits during a timeout at the Nov. 11 game against East Tennessee State University. Photo by Adam Cvik.
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Butler head coach Kurt Godlevske said the loss would be “hard to swallow” for the young team.
The game marked the first time the teams met. East Tennessee State held a 16-14 record overall last year, while Butler went 10-21.
The Bulldogs opened the first quarter with 11 points, just shy of the Buccaneers’ 12 points. East Tennessee pulled away in the second quarter with a 12 point lead before a quick combination of a Butler free throw, field goal and 3-pointer narrowed the deficit. East Tennessee led at the half, 27-21.
Sophomore guard Michelle Weaver said the first half lacked execution.
“We had the energy and motivation,” Weaver said. “We knew what we had to do, but we didn’t do it.”
Last year, the Butler women went 2-15 in games when trailing at the half. However, a strong third quarter allowed the team to capture a four point lead, their largest of the game.
Freshman guard Kristen Spolyar and Weaver powered the Bulldog offense with field goals and free throws. Weaver finished the game with eight points before fouling out. Spolyar would go on to score a team high 25 points. All but one of them came in the second half.
Godlevske said it was a good career start for the former 2016 Miss Basketball candidate.
“I got on her, and she responded,” Godlevske said. “That says a lot about the type of athlete she is.”
Butler capitalized on fouls, gaining eight free throw points to add to their 41-39 lead. The Bulldogs scored 20 points in the third quarter compared to 12 points from the Buccaneers.
Momentum shifted to East Tennessee State in the fourth quarter, led by short bursts of scoring from guard Tianna Tarter. Tarter put up 13 points in the fourth quarter alone. Four minutes left to play, East Tennessee State broke the tie with a 3-pointer and used free throws to pull ahead for a 68-59 win.
“We have young kids who have to grow quickly and learn quickly,” Godlevske said. “Our freshmen can’t play scared.”
“If we can play with energy the whole game, we’ll be all set,” Weaver said.
The women’s team will return to Hinkle on Nov. 13 against Bradley University.