Lady Tigers trump Butler to open second half of season
The Nevada Lady Tigers returned from Christmas break with a bang, defeating the Butler Lady Bears 51-39 Monday night in Wynn Gym.
The non-conference victory improves Nevada to 3-6 overall.
The Lady Tigers jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead, thanks to baskets from Renee Cox, Jansen Miller, Megan Payne, and Madi Culbertson. Butler guard Payton McGuire began to heat up from the field, helping the Lady Bears close the first quarter on a 6-2 run, as Nevada led 10-8 heading into the second quarter.
The Lady Bears opened the second frame on a 7-0 blitz, as Hally Dolbow and McGuire connected from long-range during the run, handing Butler a 15-10 lead.
Midway through the second quarter, Megan Hold's three-point attempt from the right-wing ripped the net, trimming the Butler lead to 17-15. At the other end, McGuire responded with a trey, upping the Bears advantage to five with 2:30 remaining in the first half.
A 4-0 Nevada run capped by Sarah Creasey's offensive rebound and put-back brought the Lady Tigers to within a point at 20-19. At the other end, a driving McGuire lay-up gave Butler a 22-19 edge. After adding a free throw, the Lady Bears led 23-19 at halftime.
Butler increased its lead to six, as the second half opened with a Sierra Reynolds running jumper. Culbertson answered back with a 3-pointer, cutting the Lady Tigers deficit to 25-22.
On the Lady Tigers ensuing possession, a high-low pass from Payne on the perimeter to Cox in the paint, resulted in a lay-up as Nevada trailed 25-24. Nevada was unable to get back quick enough on defense as Reynolds caught a pass at half-court and drove all the way in for the score, handing Butler a 27-24 lead.
Back-to-back close-range baskets from Cox and Payne put the Lady Tigers in front 28-27 with 3:03 remaining in the third quarter.
Late in the third quarter, the Lady Bears regained the lead 29-28 courtesy of a Bethany Davis line-drive bank-shot from near the free throw line. The Lady Tigers were able to pull ahead with baskets from Hold and Payne to go on top 32-29. Dolbow evened the score at 32 via a bucket and trip to the free throw line, where she knocked down the free throw.
With under a minute remaining in the third quarter, Culbertson began to take over, as aggressive drives to the basket sent her to the free throw line on consecutive possessions. Culbertson connected on four free throws, however only three counted thanks to a lane violation, as the Lady Tigers held a 35-32 edge.
"Madi was awesome tonight," Lady Tigers head coach Jenny Allard said. "She has gotten more and more confident as the season has progressed."
The teams continued to trade barbs as Reynolds drilled a long jumper, cutting the Butler deficit to a point. The third quarter concluded with a Brooke Sargent pass over the top of the defense to Hold, who dropped in two points. Nevada led 37-34 after three quarters of play.
The first points of the fourth quarter came nearly two minutes in, as Cox scored deep in the paint, putting Nevada on top 39-34.
Butler continued to keep the game close, as a Mady Gepford driving lay-up made the score 39-36. Gepford was also fouled on the play, but was off-target on the free throw.
The Lady Tigers then put the game away with an 8-1 run. The run started with a Hold 3-pointer from the top of the key, followed by a Culberston mid-range jumper. The Lady Tigers lead swelled to 47-37 when Hold drove the lane, scored and was fouled, hitting the free throw.
Hold tallied a game-high 16 points, while Culbertson added 15. The low-post duo of Payne and Cox chipped in with eight points apiece.
Nevada hosts Seneca tonight as part of a varsity doubleheader.