for this game

Betko helps Butler defeat Wright State, earn league title

Feb 29, 2008 - 5:43 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Julian Betko and Butler finally stand alone at the top.

Betko scored all of his 17 points in the first half as No. 13 Butler posted a 66-61 Horizon League victory over rival Wright State on Thursday.

Mike Green had 15 points, seven rebounds and eight assists and Matt Howard scored 12 for the Bulldogs (26-3, 15-2 Horizon), who clinched their first outright league title since the 2002-03 season.

"(The regular-season crown) is nice, but we still have a game to play on Saturday," Butler coach Brad Stevens said.

Butler also owns a current 10-game winning streak in conference play and is off to its best 29-game start in school history.

Betko, a native of Ruzomberok, Slovakia, started the scoring with a 3-pointer and then drilled four more shots from the arc to help give the Bulldogs take a 36-32 lead at the break.

"I was ready to shoot, even though I didn't get that many looks," Betko said.

The advantage would have been more but Vaughn Duggins got a favorable bounce on a 30-foot heave just before intermission.

Stevens said the Bulldogs' game plan wasn't necessarily to go to Betko.

"Julian's battled through a lot of adversity and he's a tough guy," Stevens said. "We didn't intend for him to shoot that much, but that's the way they played us and he was open."

A 6-6 senior, Betko, who connected on 6-of-8 from the floor and 5-of-7 from 3-point range, surpassed the 14 he scored in Butler's 43-42 loss to Wright State on December 8.

"The Raiders adjusted a little bit after halftime," Betko said. "They put their best defender on me and I didn't get that many looks in the second half. But it doesn't matter, because it made other guys open."

A 3-pointer by Pete Campbell gave the Bulldogs their largest lead at 46-37 with 14:06 left in the second half but three foul shots by Duggins cut the Raiders' deficit to 57-53 with 3:04 remaining.

However, a 3-pointer by Green 27 seconds later pushed Butler's lead back to seven to help Butler end a three-game losing streak to Wright State.

"It's so hard to guard those guys," Wright State coach Brad Brownell said. "They have so many good players.

"Obviously, we weren't counting on Betko to make five threes. But they have so many weapons, somebody eventually is going to get an open shot."

Senior point guard A.J. Graves also scored 11 points for Butler, which shot 43 percent (23-of-53).

Duggins had 17 points and Will Graham and Todd Brown each chipped in 13 for the Raiders (20-8, 12-5), who have dropped two straight following an 11-game winning streak.

"The Bulldogs winning the league title is a significant accomplishment, and they played well enough to do that," Brownell said.

Wright State, which shot 46 percent (21-of-46) and 7-of-14 from the arc, was done in by missing nine of its 21 free throws.