Kristen Spolyar brings the ball down the court during Butler’s overtime win against Xavier on Jan. 31. Spolyar scored a game-high 25 points on 8-of-18 shooting from the field. Photo by Xan Korman.
DREW FAVAKEH | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
After she fell on the ground, she bounced back up. But she grabbed her knee. As Xavier swung the ball around, she tried mirroring her opponent but seemed to be limping. The ball bounced out of bounds, and senior guard Kristen Spolyar locked eyes with Butler head coach Kurt Godlevske, who kneeled near the scorer’s table. But in true Kristen Spolyar fashion, she not only stayed in the game but dominated.
Spolyar scored a game-high 25 points as the Butler women’s basketball team improved to 7-3 in Big East play and 15-6 with a 63-61 overtime victory against Xavier on Jan. 31.
At first, Xavier’s 2-3 zone, which they switched to in the second quarter, caused problems for Butler. Butler sacrificed a lack of ball-movement, dribble penetration and an inside-out synergy for open three-point looks, most of which came early in the shot-clock.
“We built that lead, got a little comfortable, relaxed, then had a hard time recovering from that,” Godlevske said.
Junior guard Upe Atosu led Butler with three 3-point shots, accounting for all her nine points. She provided Butler with a much-needed floor-spacing element, especially when things got clogged inside. She hit a 3-point shot which put Butler up 51-47 with 1:31 remaining in regulation.
“As far as I am concerned, I am so positive when it comes to shooting,” Atosu said. “I feel like it’s going to go in. I trust my shot.”
But then, Butler missed an offensive rebound and went 1-of-3 from the free-throw line. Morgan Sharps hit two 3-pointers, sending the game to overtime.
Butler had led by as much as 12 in the first quarter, 13 in the second quarter and 13 in the third quarter, but after the 3-pointer from Sharps, Butler and Xavier, tied at 53-53, headed into overtime.
In overtime, Kristen Spolyar scored eight of Butler’s 10 points. When the offense broke down, Butler started running plays for Spolyar.
“She’s a winner,” Godlevske said. “She does what her team needs. And right now, her team needs her to score a bunch of points, and she’s doing great.”
Freshman forward Oumou Toure scored nine points, but her biggest contributions came on the defensive end. She led the Bulldogs with three blocks and four steals. She played a major part in Butler held Xavier to 36.3 percent shooting.
Butler scored 18 points off Xavier’s 16 turnovers. To no surprise, it was usually Kristen Spolyar finishing those buckets.