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Hayward rallies Butler past Illinois-Chicago

Jan 17, 2009 - 10:43 PM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Gordon Hayward scored 16 of his 25 points in the second half as 18th-ranked Butler rallied for a 59-52 victory over Illinois-Chicago on Saturday.

Sparked by their 6-8 freshman forward who made seven 3-pointers, the Bulldogs (16-1, 7-0 Horizon League) were able to overcome an 11-point halftime deficit.

"I think sometimes when you see the ball go in the hoop, it takes a burden off us," said Hayward, who matched his career in points. "We know we're good shooters."

Shelvin Mack, another talented freshman, added 18 points for Butler, which has won eight straight games overall.

Tori Boyd netted 13 points to pace the Flames (9-8, 2-5), who lost for the sixth time in seven games.

Despite a completely ineffective game from leading scorer Josh Mayo, the Flames relied on some tight defense and poor shooting from the Bulldogs en route to building a 28-17 cushion at the break.

Mayo, who entered averaging 18.1 points, was locked down and managed just seven on 3-of-12 shooting.

The Bulldogs were as bad as Mayo in the first half, when they went scoreless for nearly eight minutes at one point. They shot an abysmal 23 percent (7-of-30), including a woeful 3-of-21 effort from the arc, in the opening 20 minutes.

But Hayward was able to find his rhythm after the break, making a pair of shots from the arc in a 13-4 surge that pulled the Bulldogs within 34-30 with 14:01 remaining.

Hayward sank two free throws with just under six minutes left to give the Bulldogs the lead for good, then drained back-to-back 3-pointers for a 53-45 advantage with 2:24 left.

After their putrid start, the Bulldogs shot 46 percent (11-of-24) and made 8-of-18 attempts from the arc in the second half.

"We went in at halftime and coach told us to keep shooting," said Bulldogs swingman Willie Veasley, who scored 10 points. "It's the law of averages. You missed a lot in the first, they're bound to drop in in the second."

Off to a 16-1 start for the second straight season, the Bulldogs were able to win despite a quiet game from their best player in Matt Howard, who took just four shots and was held to six points, eight below his average.

Scott VanderMeer and Robo Kreps added 11 points apiece for the Flames, who shot 38 percent (21-of-55).

"We did our best and played as hard as we can possibly can play," Flames coach Jimmy Collins said. "Butler has a team that has the burning desire to excel. When the going gets tough, they get going. We couldn't meet their toughness down the stretch."