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Butler Comeback Falls Short at St. John's

January 16, 2014


QUEENS, N.Y. -- The Bulldogs erased an 18-point halftime deficit at St. John's on Wednesday, but they were unable to pull off the comeback win as the Red Storm held on for a 58-55 victory. Butler was limited to just six field goals in the first half, but a scoring outbreak in the final 20 minutes took the game down to the wire.

"At halftime we challenged our players because we didn't' play with much effort in the first half," Head Coach Beth Couture explained. "St. John's is a really good team, if not one of the best teams in the BIG EAST, so we challenged our group and they came out and hit shots in the second half. I thought we had the same types of shots in the first, but we just couldn't knock them down."

 St. John's ended the first half on an 18-2 run to build their halftime lead. Butler regrouped and came out of the locker room in the second half fighting as the Bulldogs went on a 16-0 run to pull within three points of St. John's at 39-36.

3-point field goals sparked the run as Haley Howard, Taylor Schippers and Mandy McDivitt all hit from distance to get Butler back into the game. Yet another 3-point field goal from Schippers with 5:24 to play would tie the game at 48-48 and Butler would take their first lead of the second half after a layup from Liz Stratman 50-48.

St. John's countered by getting the ball to Aliyyah Handford. The preseason All-BIG EAST selection came up with a three-point play to regain the lead for the Red Storm and she followed that effort by stealing the ball with full court pressure that ended up as an easy two-points to give her team the three-point cushion.

Handford would add a free throw to her scoring total to put St. John's in the driver's seat and Briana Brown would ice the game from the line going 4-for-5 from the charity stripe in the final minute of the game.

"I'm just really proud of our team as we are still playing a couple of people down," Couture added. "Our kids battled and physically I thought it was the first time that we got out played [the first half] but in the second half we matched their physical intensity."

Butler shot 26 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, but pushed their total to 38 percent by hitting 15-of-31 from the field in the second half. The scoring trio of Schippers, Stratman and Howard all performed well down the stretch as Schippers led all players with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Stratman went for 15 points and five rebounds vs. the Red Storm and Howard was active with 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting.

Butler's rebound leader was senior Mandy McDivitt who hauled down a career-high 13 boards on Wednesday. McDivitt ended the game with seven points, three steals and two assists.

Empty possessions in the first half put Butler in a hole as St. John's scored 16 points off BU miscues. That total along with second chance points (16-3) and bench points (17-4) ultimately led to the setback.

Despite struggling in the first half, Couture was pleased with the way Butler fought in the final 20 minutes to come back and take the lead.

"We are going take this and get better," Couture stated. "I'm just proud of them. We can play with teams in the BIG EAST but we have to do it for all 40 minutes.

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