Simas Lukosius scored 15 points and Chuck Harris and Jayden Taylor chipped in 13 apiece to help boost host Butler to a 63-59 victory over DePaul on Wednesday night in the schools’ Big East opener in Indianapolis.
Butler (8-4, 1-0 Big East) led by as many as 12 points in the second half, but saw the advantage trimmed to one down the stretch. DePaul’s Brandon Johnson split a pair of free throws with four seconds to go, missing an opportunity to tie the game.
Lukosius then hit two free throws to provide Butler’s first points since the 5:55 mark of the second half. The Blue Demons’ ensuing inbounds pass sailed off the hands of Philmon Gebrewhit and out of bounds, producing their 21st turnover of the game.
The Bulldogs shot 45.3 percent compared to 38.8 percent for the Blue Demons (9-2, 0-1) while winning for the fifth time in six games.
Butler held a 60-52 advantage for 4:02 before DePaul’s Brandon Johnson drilled a three to pull DePaul to within five points with 1:31 remaining. A Javon Freeman-Liberty second-chance trey 43 seconds later made it a two-point game.
Aaron Thompson collected seven of Butler’s 11 steals while adding seven points and seven assists.
Johnson notched a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Blue Demons, while Freeman-Liberty followed with 13 points.
Nick Ongenda was ejected midway through the second half for leaving the DePaul bench. Ongenda scored 10 points.
Butler led 37-26 at the break behind a torrid start from the field. The Bulldogs shot 53.6 percent in the first 20 minutes, including a 5-for-9 effort (55.6 percent) from deep.
Lukosius paced the Bulldogs’ early surge, scoring 13 first-half points on 5-for-7 shooting. Ongenda had eight at intermission to lead the Blue Demons.
David Jones missed the game for DePaul as he remains in COVID-19 protocols. The Blue Demons’ second-leading scorer behind Freeman-Liberty, Jones is averaging 17.4 points per game.
Butler stretched its series winning streak to four games. The Blue Demons are set to host the Bulldogs in Chicago on Feb. 15.
–Field Level Media