02/22/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 02/22/2020 18:55
Saturday, he may have saved the Kutztown University men's basketball team's season.
Butler went 6-for-6 from the floor, including 3-of-3 from downtown, and was good on all five of his free throws to score 20 of his career-high 33 points in the second half as the Golden Bears rallied for an imperative 85-76 PSAC East road victory at Mansfield.
Kutztown trailed 41-33 with 18:33 remaining following a Reilly Collins layup, before Butler found another gear. He scored nine of his team's next 14 points, capping a three-minute 14-3 run with a trey that gave the Bears (11-15, 9-11 PSAC) their first lead of the day, 47-44.
Mansfield eventually pulled even at 54 midway through the second half, but the Maroon and Gold broke away for good with 13 unanswered points over the next two minutes and change. , and spearheaded that spurt with back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers to start it.
Butler and Brake combined for 35 of KU's 54 points over the final 20 minutes. added seven and Smith III six off the bench as the visitors shot 58.3% (14-of-24) overall, drained eight threes and made 18-of-19 free throws (94.7%).
The win pushed Kutztown back into a three-way tie for fifth in the PSAC East along with Shepherd and Lock Haven, which both lost Saturday. Those three teams head into the final week of the regular season battling for the division's last two PSAC tournament spots. Lock Haven has already swept Shepherd and the Rams have done the same to Kutztown. A loss Saturday would have been crippling to the Bears' postseason hopes.
For much of the first half, however, it looked like the Mounties (6-20, 5-16) very well could play spoiler.
KU had no answers for Collins, who carried Mansfield on his back with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting (4-of-4 3FG). Butler did his best to help the Bears keep pace, scoring 13 first-half points, but they made just 12-of-32 shots and trailed on the boards, 17-13.
The Mounties built a 13-point lead less than nine minutes in and maintained a double-digit advantage throughout much of the first half. buzzer-beating three cut Mansfield's lead to 39-31 at the break.
Butler finished 10-of-14 overall, while canning 5-of-7 from deep and was a perfect 8-of-8 at the charity stripe. He moved within three points of 500 on the season and is 39 points shy of breaking into the program's single-season top 10. Brake, who returned to the lineup after a one-game absence, netted 23 points and grabbed six rebounds, while also going 8-of-8 at the foul line.
had seven dimes against his former team, while hauled down a game-high nine rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench.
Kutztown, which was already without leading rebounder and fifth-leading scorer , played a majority of Saturday afternoon's game without swingman , who departed less than two minutes in and did not return.
The Golden Bears shot 46.4% (26-of-56) overall and were even better from beyond the arc at 48% (12-of-25). Their 12 3-pointers were tied for second most in a game this season and the team's 91.3% success rate at the foul line (21-of-23) marked the third time they've shot 90% or better during this campaign.
Collins led four Mounties in double figures with 23 points, but was limited to just seven in the second half. Garrett Cook totaled 14 points, Trevor English 11 points and eight rebounds, and Eli Alvin 10 points. The hosts outscored KU 36-26 in the paint and posted solid shooting percentages both overall (57.7%) and from 3-point range (52.6%), but could not slow Butler and Co. in the second half when they outscored 54-37.
With its remaining games essentially 'must wins,' Kutztown travels to Bloomsburg on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. tip, before closing out the regular season at home next Saturday against Shippensburg.