Susan Lester scored 27 first half points, eight more than Valparaiso as a team, and Butler posted a 29-point halftime lead on the way to posting a 77-44 victory over the Crusaders on Friday evening at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind.
Lester made 10-of-14 shots from the floor in the first 20 minutes off of the bench, including 4-of-6 from three-point range, in her 14 minutes of action on the floor. Lester finished the game with a career high 31 points for Butler.
“Hats off to Butler for playing a great game,” head coach Keith Freeman said. “They were physical on offensive and were able to disrupt us when they played defense.”
Valpo started slowly, going the first 9:31 without a field goal before Aimee Litka (South Bend, Ind./Saint Joseph’s H.S.) hit a 22-foot triple. Butler started the game building a 16-3 advantage and led 18-7 before Litka’s triple. The Crusaders could not capitalize on nine Bulldogs turnovers in the first nine minutes, missing their first nine shots from the floor and committing seven miscues of their own. Meanwhile, Butler made seven of its first nine shots.
Lester scored 11 points in her first six minutes on the floor, but Valpo was able to climb within 12, 30-18, at the 5:56 mark of the first half. From there, Lester scored 16 of Butler’s final 18 points of the half and the Bulldogs went on an 18-1 run to take a 48-19 lead into the locker room.
Butler shot 70.4% (19-of-27) from the floor in the opening half while holding Valpo to just 26.3% (5-of-19).
“We had a really hard time getting good shots,” added Freeman.
The Bulldogs came out of the locker room and added to the lead, scoring the first nine points to finish off the 27-1 run. Valpo went more than 10 minutes without a field goal, as the Bulldog lead grew to 57-19. A 14-4 Crusader run brought the deficit under 30 at the 10-minute mark as Katie Emig (Farmington Hills, Mich./Birmingham Marian H.S.) scored inside, but Valpo would not get any closer the rest of the way.
Betsy Adams (Monticello, Ind./Twin Lakes H.S.) scored 12 points to lead Valpo, all of which came in the second half on four three-pointers. Emig finished with nine for the Crusaders.
Melanie Thornton added 10 points for Butler (12-6, 7-0 Horizon) while grabbing a game-high nine rebounds. The Bulldogs outboarded Valpo 37-23 and turned 12 offensive rebounds into 15 second chance points.
Valpo committed 21 turnovers for the game, leading to 25 Butler points, while the Bulldogs turned the ball over just five more times after the first nine minutes of the game.
“We have to work to get better and have an approach to compete harder,” concluded Freeman.
Valparaiso (9-8, 4-3) will continue its three-game road swing next weekend in Wisconsin beginning with Thursday evening’s contest in Milwaukee against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Tip-off against the Panthers is set for 7 p.m. with all the action carried live on the Horizon League Network and WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso).
Game Notes: Lauren Kenney (Mooresville, Ind./Mooresville H.S.) saw eight minutes of action for the first time since missing six games with an ankle injury, scoring four points … Stephanie Thomas (Avon, Ind./Avon H.S.) scored a career-high three points in the game … Butler leads the overall series 16-4 and holds an 8-1 advantage in Indianapolis.