Boilermakers end Bulldogs’ season: Beyond the Box Score

First-year guard Riley Makalusky led Butler in scoring with 14 points against Purdue. Photo by Jonathan Wang


The Butler women’s basketball season came to a close on March 25 with a 62-51 loss at the hands of Purdue in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. The Boilermakers got a bye in the first round of the tournament, while Butler earned the right to play Purdue with a 75-63 win over Bowling Green. 

The nearly 2,000 fans who descended on Hinkle Fieldhouse were rewarded with a hard-fought first half that saw Purdue go into the break with a three-point lead. A nine-point third quarter Boilermaker advantage doomed Butler, though, and a late surge was not enough to overcome their Big Ten foe. 

First-year wing Riley Makalusky was the best player on the floor for the Bulldogs. She scored a team-high 14 points and grabbed five rebounds. Butler was able to scheme her open by cutting towards the basket from the weak side. Makalusky was able to finish at the rim, going 5-11 from the field throughout the game. 

“I thought we had a bit of a mismatch with her,” head coach Austin Parkinson said. “They were bigger at that spot, but we were also a little bit quicker. I thought she came out of the gates aggressive, made some nice plays, and she’s been really good offensively for us.” 

Makalusky’s efforts were not enough to overcome a career performance from Purdue’s Mila Reynolds. The sophomore forward scored a career-high 15 points in just 17 minutes of play. Reynolds caught fire from three-point range, shooting 4-6 from beyond the arc after entering the game having made just three triples all season. 

“Yeah, I mean, you gotta kind of pick your poison,” Parkinson said. “You’re playing the stats. We left her a couple times when she had the ball in her hands, and that part is tough, but at the end of the day sometimes these games are about players that step up.” 

Despite the loss, junior forward Sydney Jaynes and first-year guard Karsyn Norman were two players who stepped up for Butler. Jaynes stuffed the stat sheet, recording 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Norman scored just five points but dished out six assists. 

Norman, Makalusky and fellow first-year starter Cristen Carter could be key contributors for Butler for years to come. 

“We played a lot of young kids, and I think the future is bright,” Parkinson said . “I don’t think you cheat the steps, and for us I thought this was a real step in the right direction.” 

The Bulldogs do seem to be making positive progress. They have improved on their win total in each of their first two seasons under Parkinson, and expect to return four of their five starters for the 2024-25 campaign. 

“I just told the squad that it’s March 25 and we just played the most meaningful game in Butler basketball in quite some time,” Parkinson said . “We’re doing the right things, and we’re heading in the right direction.” 


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