Butler was all about getting revenge on a Saint Louis team that swept both meetings with the Bulldogs in the regular season. Out of the gate in the first half, Butler played with more poise and purpose, but it wasn't enough as Saint Louis advanced to their first Atlantic 10 Championship appearance with a 67-56 win.
Regardless of what Butler did in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, they will wind up in the NCAA Tournament field of 68 teams.
The first half became a back-and-forth affair with Saint Louis grabbing a slight 27-25 edge with a Rob Loe basket with 0:01 left on the clock.
It wasn't until Dwayne Evans' bucket with 5:06 left that got the Billikens their first double-digit lead, 55-45. The second half was the Dwayne Evans Show. He scored 16 of his game-high 24 and showed no quit at all as he led his SLU teammates to victory, 67-56.
There were some different intangibles that helped Saint Louis keep Butler from winning this semifinal matchup. The Billikens forced 20 Bulldogs turnovers, 14 coming from steals. They forced Butler to shoot just 21-of-54 (39%) overall and just 5-for-18 from three-point land. SLU made seven more free throws (20-31) than Butler attempted (9-13). Keeping BU off the foul line is always a good thing, especially with a few that are automatic there.
For victorious Saint Louis (26-6), Evans led all scorers with 24 and 11 rebounds. The SLU junior also shot 7-10 from the floor and 9-11 at the free throw line. The Atlantic 10 6th Man of the Year, Cody Ellis, joined Evans in double-figures with 13 on 4-for-8 from beyond the three-point arc.
Butler was only able to get Rotnei Clarke into double-digit scoring with 16 on 7-of-15 field goals. Andrew Smith and Roosevelt Jones both finished with 8, while Kameron Woods had 7.
The Bulldogs (26-8) found out Sunday evening that they'll be playing their NCAA Tournament 2st round game against Bucknell (28-5), who was the Patriot League champion. Butler is the 6-seed and Bucknell the 11-seed in the tournament's East Regional. This will be the first meeting ever between BU and the Bison and will take place on Thursday, March 21 in Lexington, Kentucky at Rupp Arena.