Bench powers No. 24 Butler past DePaul, 82-66
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Nate Fowler led Butler with 15 points and Kelan Martin chipped in with 14 as the No. 24 Bulldogs surged past DePaul, 82-66 Sunday afternoon at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Butler (21-6, 10-5 Big East) trailed the visiting Blue Demons 27-22 with less than five minutes to go in the first half, but then exploded on a 21-0 run, which stretched into the second half.
Though that run was the primary factor propelling the Bulldogs over DePaul, plenty more went well for Butler outside of that seven-and-a-half minute stretch.
“Pleased with this effort in a lot of ways,” said head coach Chris Holtmann after the win. “Really pleased with it. We did a lot of really good things.”
“Didn’t try to force anything on offense,” added Nate Fowler. “Just let it come to us. Definitely locked down on the defensive end and talked to each other a lot.”
Holtmann credited Fowler, Kelan Martin, and Tyler Lewis in particular for Sunday’s result. That trio of players all come off the bench and combined for 39 of Butler’s 54 bench points.
The substitute roll is a new one for Martin in particular, after Holtmann benched his leading scorer earlier this month.
“Just playing harder has been my role these past couple games,” explained Martin. “I don’t think I was playing hard during my struggles, and I think once I started to play hard consistently, good things happen.”
“Starting’s important to some guys,” added Holtmann, “but guys want to play minutes. We have seven or eight guys on occasion who can start with this group.”
Back-to-back dominant wins have given the Bulldogs a solid grasp of second place in the Big East Standings, a far cry from just a short time ago, when Butler had lost three of four.
“We said in practice the last three weeks,” said Holtmann, “when everyone else was saying all around us seemed like it was ‘the sky is falling’, we were practicing well, our guys in the locker room had a good way about them, and that’s a credit to them.”
“We practiced extremely hard that week,” added Tyler Lewis. “It gave us a chance to regroup together. Losing those two right before that break, we knew we had to bounce back, and that’s what we did.”
And Butler did it just in time for the home stretch to the regular season. Three games remain, starting at No. 2 Villanova Wednesday night.