In a conference like the Atlantic 10, a team should never take any size of a lead for granted. Sometimes, a 17-point lead isn't safe to sit back and relax on, when there's still 12 minutes left. That's exactly what happened to #14 Butler on Saturday afternoon at the soldout Charles E. Smith Center (4.488) in Washington, D.C. The Bulldogs were able to hold off the Colonials' late comeback and escape our nation's capitol with a 59-56 conference road victory.
Rotnei Clarke nailed a three to put Butler up 12-10 with 13:50 left in the first half and the Bulldogs were cruising and feeling good for the time being. Their lead swelled to 11 at one point (25-14) before holding onto a 31-22 halftime advantage.
Butler kept a double-digit for a majority of the second half, including their largest lead (48-31) with 12:02 left in the ball game.
With 6:01 on the clock, George Washington had cut the deficit to ten points at 53-43 and had comeback in mind. Starting with two Isaiah Armwood free throws helped bring it under ten (56-48) with 2:47 left.
Roosevelt Jones shoots pretty poor (59%) from the free throw line on the season and he continued that against GW. Jones was just 2-of-9 from the foul line and Butler shot just 62% (13-21) as a team, which didn't help their cause. Jones couldn't convert at the line when it mattered with 1:19 left and Lasan Kromah dropped in a layup, leaving the Colonials down just 57-54 and 52 ticks left.
Joe McDonald had scored five of the next seven points for the Colonials, including a pair of free throws that brought things back to Butler leading by just one (57-56) with 0:44 remaining.
After being fouled by Kromah, freshman Kellen Dunham sank two from the charity stripe to put Butler up by three, 59-56. George Washington had opportunities in the final 23 seconds, but two three-point attempts came up off the mark and BU escaped with a narrow three point win.
George Washington (11-11, 5-4 A-10) was able to get three into double-figures with Isaiah Armwood leading the Colonials and sharing game-high honors with 14 points, while also grabbing 11 rebounds for a double-double. Joe McDonald and Lasan Kromah both had 10.
The Butler Bulldogs (20-4, 7-2 A-10) also had a 14 point scorer in Rotnei Clarke. He also filled out the rest of his line of the stat sheet with 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Despite his sub par free throw shooting, Roosevelt Jones wound up with 12 and seven boards, while Kellen Dunham knocked down 10 points off the bench.
Butler notched its 20th victory of the season at GW on Saturday, joining 15 others with 20 wins thus far in 2012-13. Those include two teams, #1 Indiana (20-3) and #6 Gonzaga (23-2), that the Bulldogs have victories against. Saturday's big win at George Washington puts BU atop the Atlantic 10 standings, but sharing conference records with VCU and Saint Louis, all with 7-2 league totals.
The Dawgs head home to play the Charlotte 49ers (17-6, 5-4 A-10) on Wednesday, February 13 for a 7 p.m. tipoff at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The game can be seen on local television in the Indianapolis area on My-INDY-TV channel 23 and heard on the radio on Country 97.1 Hank-FM.