for this game

Butler surge jolts Wisconsin-Green Bay

Jan 23, 2009 - 4:40 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Matt Howard scored seven straight points in the second half to give Butler the lead and the Bulldogs never looked back en route to a 68-59 victory over Wisconsin-Green Bay in a Horizon League game on Thursday.

The victory was Butler's ninth straight.

Butler, ranked 17th in the nation, was trailing, 35-34, when Howard erupted. The sophomore forward's tip-in gave the Bulldogs (17-1, 8-0 Horizon) the lead. He added back-to-back layups off assists from freshmen Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward, respectively.

Troy Cotton fouled Howard on the final layup and the forward canned the free throw to make it 41-35.

"I don't know if it was their crowd and we couldn't hear, but we had a lack of communication," Phoenix coach Tod Kowalczyk told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "In the first half, we really communicated well defensively. But in the second half, we had some communication problems whether it was us not talking or us not hearing because of the crowd, and we left some guys open. And when the game was on the line, they made good shots."

The Bulldogs outscored UWGB, 46-34, in the second half to erase a 25-22 deficit at intermission.

"We thought we were the better team, but we didn't play up to our ability," Cotton told the Press-Gazette. "We lost our edge defensively in the second half, and they played great."

The Phoenix had used a burst at the end of the first half to take the lead. They were trailing, 18-17, when Bryquis Perine, Mike Schachtner and Ryan Tillema connected for baskets during a 6-0 run.

Four free throws by Butler sandwiched around a basket by Tillema made it a three-point game at the half.

Howard scored 15 points and Hayward added 14 for Butler.

The Bulldogs shot 22-of-50 from the floor (44 percent), including 9-of-26 from beyond the arc. They outrebounded the Phoenix, 32-27.

The Phoenix (14-6, 6-2) were paced by Rahmon Fletcher with 22 points. UWGB hit on 20-of-50 shots (40 percent), including 7-of-18 from long range.

"He's really good, really fast and really crafty," Butler coach Brad Stevens told the Press-Gazette of Fletcher. "He's terrific going right, setting up and coming back to his left off that flat screen."

Fletcher is looking forward to rematch in Green Bay on February 2.

"We feel we're just as good as them," Fletcher told the paper. "So when they come back (to Green Bay), it's going to be a tough game."