Butler defeats Wagner 74-58 in season opener

Kristen Spolyar takes a shot during warmups. The senior led the Bulldogs with 17 points. Photo by Chandler Hart. 

DREW FAVAKEH | STAFF REPORTER | dfavakeh@butler.edu

After the Butler women’s basketball team defeated Wagner 74-58 on Nov. 9, head coach Kurt Godlevske raised his eyebrows and flashed a smile.

“Offensively, very, very disappointed,” Godlevske told Butler Sports’ Chelsea Groves in the postgame press conference. “And I say that with a win. I’m happy to be 1 and 0.”

A strong first quarter — winning 27-9 — powered Butler to victory. In total, senior guard Kristen Spolyar led the team with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting, most of which came on cuts and strong takes to the rim.

Senior center Shae Brey scored her first bucket on a corner three-point shot, which Godlesvke, in an interview earlier this year, said he isn’t opposed to. Brey had nine total points. Junior guard Emilia Sexton also chipped in eight points, all of which were mid-range pull-up shots.

Freshman guard Tenley Dowell scored her first bucket as a Bulldog on an and-1 drive. She also scored a 3-pointer as the first-quarter buzzer went off. Throughout the game, Dowell traded point guard duties with Genesis Parker, a position change from earlier in the summer.

“Well, in the beginning of the summer, I was running through the four and five spots mostly,” Dowell said. “And then, not too long ago, [Coach Godlevske] was like, ‘Tenley, You need to know the one.’”

Butler excelled when they attacked the lane, enabling them to kick-out to three-point shooters or get open layups.

“As a team, we just need to keep getting better at penetrating the lane,” Brey said. “But I think all the new people all stepped up and we’re starting to really gel well together.


Butler would go on to lose the next three quarters, 47-49. That deficit resulted mainly from the defensive breakdown in the third quarter. At the end of the third quarter, Godlevske acknowledged the breakdown.

“Our defense was falling apart,” Dowell remembers Godlesvke saying in the huddle after the third quarter. “We were just letting open three’s and letting them drive. They were out-rebounding us a lot, so we knew we had to get back in transition and get out on the shooters.”

Wagner was able to easily make the pass to the post player, who could then either kick the ball out to a shooter or, turn around and knock down an open mid-range jumper.

The turnovers offensively didn’t help, either. Godlesvke alluded to the 26 turnovers, most of which also came in the third quarter. Spolyar and Parker accounted for 12 of those turnovers. Three of Spolyar’s turnovers came when she drove into the lane and charged into a set defender, while most of Parker’s came before she even put the ball down.

“I just really need to pay attention to what I’m doing and watch my feet,” Parker said. “A lot of them were travels, so I need to really pay close attention to my mistakes. I really need to clean it up, though.”


Still, Butler won the turnover battle, forcing 29 Wagner turnovers on the defensive side of the ball. Most of those turnovers resulted from Butler’s 2-1-2 full-court zone trap. By trapping on the wings, Butler forced Wagner to make errant passes. The zone — named “yellow” — was used in practice, Shae Brey said, so this game was an opportune time to test it. Tenley Dowell led the team with six steals.


There is time for Butler to clean up the turnover and defensive issues. The Bulldogs’ next game comes at Hinkle on Nov. 13 against Detroit Mercy.


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