With a lot of unselfish play by Butler as a whole and just that much more of a sense of urgency, the fifth-seeded Butler Bulldogs emerged victorious in the 2nd round of the Atlantic 10 conference tournament over the 12-seeded Dayton Flyers, 73-67.
The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York was rocking all day and night long with some hot and exciting action at the home of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets.
It was senior guard Rotnei Clarke's first action seeing Dayton since he took a nasty tumble into the undercarriage of the basket, just 12 minutes into Butler's game at Dayton on January 12. Clarke didn't waste time and definitely chose his shots wisely, to say the least. Butler's leading scorer (16.8 ppg.) had no trouble getting himself into a rhythm and taking control of the game's tempo, as he led all scorers in this second round game with 21 points, including a remarkable 6-for-12 shooting performance beyond the three-point arc.
It was a back-and-forth affair in the first nine minutes, with Dayton up 14-10. With freshman Kellen Dunham fouled on a three attempt, the frosh narrowed things to 14-13 with all three free throws. On Butler's ensuing possession, Khyle Marshall nabbed Butler the lead (15-14) that the Bulldogs would keep the rest of the first half, heading into the locker room with a slim 33-30 edge.
Just four minutes into the second half, the Flyers grabbed the lead again. Kevin Dillard netted five straight points on two field goals for a 43-39 slight lead for UD. But it wouldn't last long.
It isn't highly recommended that you give Butler a deficit that is easy to come back from. Clarke and Dunham combined for nine quick points on three triples to give Butler a 48-45 advantage that they wouldn't let Dayton have back the rest of the way.
Up by just a 55-50 score with 7:11 left, Butler needed and wanted some sort of answer to keep Dayton away. That answer was junior Erik Fromm. The 6'8 junior (Bloomington, IN/South HS) made his own 9-4 run in just under three minutes of the game clock to give the Dawgs a 64-54 cushion with 4:26 remaining.
Butler kept things at a two possession game the rest of the way, holding off a very feisty Dayton Flyers squad, 73-67.
Dayton (17-14) got four into double-figures. Josh Benson led UD with a team-high 18, knocking down 9-of-17 from the floor. Kevin Dillard had 15 on nine field goals, Dyshawn Pierre had 12 and Vee Sanford with 11 for the Flyers. UD will more than likely end up in the NIT field for their post-season play.
Butler (25-7) was led by their prolific scoring guard Rotnei Clarke with a game-high 21 on his 6 treys. Senior center Andrew Smith made good use of his size on the inside with 18 points on six field goals, including a pair of three-pointers. Khyle Marshall, Kellen Dunham and Erik Fromm each chipped in 9 for the advancing Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs advanced to Friday's quarterfinals to meet up with 4-seeded LaSalle (21-8).