Butler loses on the road to St. John’s, still searching for first win

 

Senior guard Upe Atosu rises up for the three-point attempt. The Butler women’s basketball team is still searching their first win of the season.

 

HENRY BREDEMEIER | STAFF REPORTER | hbredeme@butler.edu

The Butler women’s basketball team lost 64-56 to St. John’s on the road at Carnesecca Arena, dropping the team to 0-6 on the season. Senior guard Genesis Parker led the Bulldogs with 13 points and two steals, and redshirt senior Jaia Alexander added 11 points, eight rebounds and two steals. This was the first game this season for Butler starting the same lineup as the previous game.

On their first possession of the game, St. John’s guard Leilani Correa cashed in a 3-pointer following an offensive rebound off a missed corner three. On Butler’s next possession, Parker broke free on a screen from junior forward Okako Adika and made the layup despite being fouled in the process. She missed her free throw, but Adika grabbed the offensive board, kicking it out to her teammates, who passed it around the perimeter before feeding Adika again, who finished the play by driving baseline and hitting a layup to take the early lead.

The Bulldogs went on a bit of a cold streak over the next five minutes, and the Red Storm took advantage, going on a 9-0 run to take a 12-4 lead with three minutes to play in the first. Alexander ended the St. John’s run, hitting a pullup jumper off the glass for her first points of the game. Both teams came up empty on the next couple possessions, before Red Storm senior forward Raven Farley grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back up for two. With 30 seconds left, Bulldog senior guard Upe Atosu hit a pullup three to cut the Red Storm lead to five heading into the second quarter.

Both teams started off slow in the opening minutes of the second, and Parker ended the cold spell with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to cut the lead down to two. St. John’s answered right back on the next possession with a three of their own. Alexander scored on the next possession after grabbing her own rebound and putting it back up for two.

A few possessions later, senior guard Micah Sheetz intercepted a St. John’s pass and took it the length of the floor and hit a layup over two Red Storm players. After a St. John’s bucket, Parker hit a three from the same spot as her first to tie the game at 19. She then stole the ball on the next St. John’s possession, dribbled it down the floor and floated a layup high off the glass while getting fouled. This time she hit the free throw, converting the three-point play and giving Butler their first lead since 4-3 early in the first. At this point, Parker had scored half of Butler’s 22 points.

St. John’s scored a layup following Parker’s solo 6-0 run to cut Butler’s lead to one. About a minute later, freshman forward Nyamer Diew was fouled and hit one of her two shots from the line, and on their next possession, junior Ellen Ross showed off her post moves and hit a short jumper to extend the Bulldog lead. After a St. John’s missed three, Butler let the shot clock tick down before kicking it to Alexander who rattled in a 3-pointer to give Butler their biggest lead of the day, 28-21. Red Storm guard Unique Drake hit a layup a minute later and then cashed in one of two free throws on the next possession, to cut the Butler lead to four heading into halftime. This was just the second game this season that Butler held a halftime lead, the other being their New Year’s Eve loss to Georgetown.

Early in the third quarter, St. John’s mishandled a pass and Parker scooped it up and ran the length of the floor and hit a wide open fast-break layup. On the next St. John’s possession, Sheetz and Parker forced a sloppy pass that Adika picked up and took the length of the floor to get a fast-break layup of her own, extending Butler’s lead to eight. St. John’s hit a pair of free throws, and Sheetz followed that up with a wide-open three on a cross court pass from Adika. Butler forced another Red Storm turnover on the next possession and Atosu was fouled on a long two-point shot, and the 85 percent free throw shooter hit both of her shots from the line. On the Bulldogs next possession, St. John’s let Adika open beyond the arc, and she punished that mistake and extended the Bulldog lead to 40-26—their largest lead of the season.

The Red Storm stormed right back into the game, taking advantage of the Bulldog bench and shutting out Butler for the next three minutes. In this period, St. John’s went on a 13-0 run, with seven of the points coming from Correa, including a wide-open three to cut the Butler lead to one. After head coach Kurt Godlevske brought starters back in the game, Adika was able to end the Red Storm’s impressive scoring run with a layup. On the next possession, St. John’s guard Qadashah Hoppie converted an and-one off an inbounds pass and tied the game at 42 all with two minutes left in the third. Atosu hit a three to give Butler the lead back, but that was short lived as St. John’s hit two layups to give themselves a 46-45 lead after an eventful third quarter.

The two teams traded buckets back and forth to open up the final quarter, with Ross and Alexander each scoring second-chance buckets that were nullified by two St. John’s scores. The Red Storm scored the next two buckets to extend their lead to five with six minutes to play. A few possessions later, redshirt freshman guard Tenley Dowell grabbed an offensive board and made a nice pass under the basket to an open Sheetz who cut the lead to three.

St. John’s made a layup with three minutes left to extend their lead back to five, but Alexander found herself open on the next possession and cut the lead back to three with a layup. That was the closest the game would get, as St. John’s scored eight points over the next two minutes, before Atosu hit her third three of the game with thirty seconds left, to finalize the score at 64-56.

Despite the loss, the Bulldogs continue to show improvement as they get the team back to full strength. In her second game of the season, Genesis Parker looked really good, hitting triples and playing as a defensive pest—it is clear she was sorely missed in Butler’s first four games. Jaia Alexander has also been a nice addition, crashing the boards and proving to be one of the teams’ best rebounders despite being 5-foot-11. She is still shaking off the rust after missing two years of playing due to a redshirt after her transfer from Clemson, in addition to missing last season due to a knee injury.  Despite this missed time, Godlevske clearly trusts her, as she played the most minutes in this game, and the second most in the last game versus Providence.

Butler’s next chance for their first win of the season is this Monday, Jan. 13, as they take on Seton Hall at Hinkle Fieldhouse at 6 p.m.

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