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Howard helps Butler avenge loss to Cleveland State

Feb 17, 2008 - 12:20 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Matt Howard made sure Butler wasn't upset by Cleveland State again.

The freshman scored 17 points and pulled down eight rebounds as the 10th-ranked Bulldogs avenged one of their two losses this season with a 51-46 victory over the Vikings in Horizon League action Saturday.

Butler (24-2, 13-2 Horizon) has won eight straight games since its 56-52 loss at Cleveland State on January 17.

Howard scored 14 of his points in the first half Saturday as the Bulldogs opened a 33-25 lead at the break. He finished 5-of-9 from the floor for the game and made 7-of-11 from the free-throw line.

Cleveland State (17-11, 10-6) rallied early in the second half to tie the score at 40-40 by outscoring Butler, 15-7, over the first five minutes. Cedric Jackson scored five points over that stretch for Cleveland State.

Butler got back on track when Julian Betko hit a 3-pointer eight minutes into the second half to break the tie and give the Bulldogs a 43-40 lead.

Drew Streicher followed with a layup two minutes later, and after Breyhon Watson scored for the Vikings, Pete Campbell buried a 3-pointer to put Butler ahead, 48-42, with nine minutes left.

Neither team scored for almost six minutes until Cleveland State's George Tandy drained a pair of free throws with 3:24 remaining.

A.J. Graves followed with a layup to make it 50-44 with just over three minutes remaining, and Howard sank a free throw to put Butler ahead by five with one minute left.

Cedric Jackson made a floating jump shot with 51 seconds left for the Vikings to close out the scoring.

"They had every chance to put us away and they couldn't do it," Cleveland State coach Gary Waters said. "We had our chance to get back in it, and put them away and we couldn't do it. This was a game that either team could have easily won."

Graves added 15 points, including three 3-pointers, for Butler, which shot 40.5 percent (17-of-42) from the field.

Jackson paced the Vikings with 20 points while J'Nathan Bullock added 11. Cleveland State, which had its three-game winning streak snapped, shot 31 percent (16-of-46) from the floor.