BUTTE — Two field goals.
That’s all the Butte girls’ basketball team was able to get to go down outside of several free throws in the second half of a 44-38 loss to Helena Capital on Thursday night. The Bulldogs were able to only muster nine total points in the final two quarters thanks to a herculean effort by the Bruins defense.
Butte falls to 1-2 while Capital moves to 2-0.
“We just got tired, I think,” Bulldogs’ head coach Maury Cook said. “They switched into a zone and we didn’t pass the ball, we didn’t move the ball as well when they went into the zone.”
The Bulldogs scored 20 points in the first quarter, led by three triples from Brittney Tierney. It was a hot start and Cook mentioned how happy he was to see them start the game that way.
The strong outside shooting helped negate one of Capital’s biggest advantages — its size.
With a starting lineup that consisted of just one player under 5-foot-10, the Bulldogs were at mismatch from the beginning. Once Butte cooled off and the adrenaline faded, however, the Bruins’ length started to shut them down.
“I thought in the second half we finally matched their intensity and got some stops,” Capital head coach Bill Pilgeram said. “Butte just came out in the first bit and we weren’t getting stops. They were in the paint every time and when we helped, they were hitting open shots.
“We faced a little bit adversity and they were hitting shots we didn’t think they were going to make.”
Butte got into some foul trouble and the Bruins ended up at the line 14 times in the second half, making 10 of them.
Army West Point basketball commit Taylor Sullivan took the bulk of the free throws, hitting 8-of-13 on the evening. She was terrific defensively, blocking shots and adjusting others.
“[Taylor] Sullivan owned the paint and changed shots when they did go in there,” Cook said. “One both ends of the floor she was drawing a lot of attention and she just owned the paint tonight.
“I really challenged them all defensively to get as many stops as we could get in a row. They did it.”
The empty possessions were frustrating for the Bulldogs, but they stayed in the game until the end. A technical foul in the third quarter allowed Butte to draw within two points, but Helena was able to quickly push the lead back out.
Cook seems confident that with a bit more time and conditioning, he’ll have his team where he wants them to be this season.
“I was really proud of all our kids tonight,” Cook said. “Our kids played hard tonight and we have a week off and we’ll be able to correct some things and go out and see what we can do against Kalispell.”