Cleveland St. 66, Butler 57

Cleveland State star Kailey Klein has scored in double figures

99 times during her brilliant career.

She’ll have a chance to make it an even 100 in the NCAA


Klein scored 23 points and Cleveland State beat Butler 66-57 on

Sunday to win the Horizon League tournament and earn its second

NCAA berth in the last three years.

“I don’t really look to the personal goals as much as if we

were to win a first-round NCAA tournament game,” said Klein, one

of four senior starters who joined the program following a 4-25

season. “That’s way more important that 100 double-figure scoring


“If I can do both,” she added, “that would be great.”

Cleveland State (19-13) led by as many as 15 points in the

second half before Alyssa Pittman began to rally Butler. She hit a

trio of 3-pointer to trim the deficit to 47-41, and Melanie

Thornton’s deflection led to a fastbreak layup by Terra Burns to

make it a four-point game.

Angel Roque answered with a 3-pointer from the wing, and a steal

and coast-to-coast layup by Shawnita Garland gave the Vikings some

breathing room.

“We could have got beat by 30 tonight,” Butler coach Beth

Couture said.

Pittman finished with 18 points for Butler (23-9), which was

seeking its first conference tournament title since 1996. Thornton,

the league’s player of the year, had 16.

“She was huge,” Couture said of Pittman, who provided her

spark off the bench. “When she started shooting 3s, we could get

Mel inside because, all of a sudden, you have to play everybody.

When we weren’t hitting 3s in the first half, they just stayed

right in the paint. That’s exactly how I’d play us.”

Cleveland State led 30-20 at halftime by holding the Bulldogs to

26.9 percent shooting, including 1 of 8 from 3-point range. The

Vikings also forced 10 turnovers.

“I think maybe the first 20 possessions, we saw all of the same

plays that we had gone over,” Cleveland State coach Peterson Abiad

said. “I thought that we recognized them right away and defend

them exactly the way we talked about.”

It was a disappointing end to what has been a charmed season for


Couture was diagnosed with breast cancer in April and endured 16

weeks of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation treatment – the

last of which came just days before the season-opener against

Kentucky. The Bulldogs wear pink shows as a tribute to their


“It would have been a story, I’m sure,” Couture said. “The

story for me would have been, we got back to the tournament for the

second time in our history. That would have been the story. For

what these kids have done this year with my story, they made it

easy for me to coach.”