Loyola of Chicago 47, Butler 62
INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—Matt Howard doesn’t expect any letdowns from No. 18 Butler, even with at least a share of the Bulldogs’ fourth straight Horizon League regular season title secured.
Howard scored 20 points to lead the Bulldogs past Loyola of Chicago 62-47 on Monday night for their 13th straight win. Butler (21-4, 14-0) can clinch the conference title outright with a victory at Youngstown State on Thursday night.
The Bulldogs are tied for the second-longest winning streak in the nation with Murray State. Siena has won 15 straight.
“This team is looking for more,” Howard said. “If we’re going to keep progressing, it’s got to be 40 minutes of basketball to get to where we want to be.”
Willie Veasley had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Bulldogs, who matched the second-longest winning streak in school history.
“We haven’t won it yet in our eyes,” Butler coach Brad Stevens said of the Horizon League title. “You always like to win it outright, but to be there on the doorstep and have a chance to do that, I’m proud of our guys.”
Walt Gibler and Geoff McCammon each scored nine points for the Ramblers (13-11, 4-10), who have lost six of their past seven games against Butler.
Despite shooting 22 percent from the field in the first half, the Bulldogs trailed only 26-24 at halftime. Butler started the game shooting 2 of 18 as the Ramblers took a 15-6 lead 9 minutes in.
“In the first half, we were really pleased with the defensive effort and we were really hoping we’d be up a little more,” Loyola coach Jim Whitesell said. “Our big thing was that we didn’t get a big enough lead there.”
The Bulldogs didn’t get to double figures until Chase Stigall’s 3-pointer with 7 minutes left in the first half cut Loyola’s lead to 15-10.
“Biggest shot of the night was Chase hitting that 3 in the corner because it got us going,” Stevens said. “We were stuck on six and seven forever.”
Veasley’s five straight points early in the second half broke a 29-29 tie and gave the Bulldogs their first lead since they scored the first two points of the game. Butler used a 15-8 run over the next 8 minutes to open a 49-37 lead. Shelvin Mack’s 3-pointer capped the spurt.
Butler finished at 36 percent from the field one game after shooting nearly 68 percent in Saturday’s victory over Wright State.
“I didn’t know if we’d ever get to 20,” Stevens said. “Sometimes your mind wants to do one thing and your body doesn’t let you, but our guys fought through that. It wasn’t pretty, but it was definitely a win that I’m proud of our guys.”