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Butler claims share of Horizon League regular-season title

Feb 24, 2007 - 10:46 PM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Butler coach Todd Lickliter implored his team to improve its defensive play. The message got through.

The 15th-ranked Bulldogs limited Detroit to less than 28 percent shooting from the field and posted a 56-36 victory in the regular-season finale for the Horizon League schools.

Butler (26-5, 13-3 Horizon) clinched a share of the league regular-season title with Wright State, which earned the top seed in the postseason tournament due to a season sweep of the Bulldogs.

Butler had a chance to win the league title outright, but lost at home to Loyola Chicago, 75-71, on Thursday night.

After that game, Lickliter admonished the team for poor defensive play. The Bulldogs responded to their coach on Saturday, limiting the Titans (11-18, 6-10) to 14-of-51 shooting, including 3-of-19 from the arc. No Detroit player reached double figures in scoring.

"After being knocked down Thursday, these guys responded," Lickliter said. "If we play the kind of defense we played today, we'll have success in the Horizon League tournament."

Brandon Crone scored 17 points and A.J. Graves and Mike Green added 13 apiece for Butler, which has been ranked in the top 20 after winning the preseason NIT title and is one win shy of tying a school record. The Bulldogs won 27 games in 2002-03 when they reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

"It feels great to get a share of a regular-season title," Crone said. "To set a school record in wins would be even better."

Detroit has lost its last eight trips to Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse, where the Bulldogs are an impressive 70-13 under Lickliter.

Ryvon Coville led the Titans with nine points and 15 rebounds. Brandon Cotton, Detroit's top scorer at 17.9 points per game, made just 3-of-8 shots and finished with eight points.

Graves hit a pair of 3-pointers and Pete Campbell made three free throws and a layup as Butler raced to an 18-3 lead in the first 8:48.

Detroit responded with a 13-4 run before Green closed the half with a 3-pointer, giving the Bulldogs a 25-16 advantage.

Brandon Bell hit a 3-pointer and Cotton converted a layup to pull the Titans within 25-21 with 17:39 remaining.

But a layup by Graves and a 3-pointer by Crone ignited an 18-4 run. Crone capped it with a layup, giving Butler a 43-25 lead with 9:19 left.

"When they took the three away from me, I just made up my mind to drive to the basket," said Crone, who made 3-of-4 shots from the arc.

Detroit pulled no closer than 16 points the rest of the way.

"Our inability to make shots was the difference," Detroit coach Perry Watson said. "We just could not hit the perimeter shots."

Of Detroit's 14 field goals, 10 came on either layups or offensive rebounds.

    --- --- -----
    DETROIT 16 20 36
    BUTLER (15) 25 31 56 FINAL

    Feb 24 3:55 PM

    DETROIT 16

    Feb 24 2:46 PM