St. Bonaventure's upset bid falls short 77-58
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - With just under four minutes left in the first half, St. Bonaventure was within two points of No. 14 Butler.
The final three minutes of the first half helped end the Bonnies' upset bid.
Rotnei Clarke scored five of his 17 points in that stretch, his 3-pointer and layup in between a 3-pointer by Andrew Smith and a layup by Roosevelt Jones to help pad Butler's lead in a 77-58 win over the Bonnies on Wednesday night.
"In order for us to win, we had to play our `A' game and we certainly didn't,'' St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt said. "I think the game was won in the final three minutes of the first half.''
It didn't help the Bonnies' cause when they had no second chances in the first half. St. Bonaventure (10-11, 3-5 Atlantic 10) had zero offensive rebounds in the first half.
"We made some errors, and they make you pay for your errors,'' Schmidt said.
While Demitrius Conger was the only player to score in double figures for the Bonnies, finishing with 18 points, the Bulldogs (19-4, 6-2) had four double-digit scorers, led by Clarke.
"The ball really whipped around today,'' Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "I thought there were a lot of good basketball plays today.''
Andrew Smith scored 13 points and Khyle Marshall and Chase Stigall added 12 points each.
Stigall hit consecutive 3-pointers midway through the first half that pushed Butler from a 13-11 deficit to a 17-13 lead.
"When I came in, I didn't force anything. I just took what the defense gave me,'' Stigall said.
"He was great, you can kind of count on Chase to win you a couple games,'' Stevens said.
St. Bonaventure pulled within 24-23 on a 3-point play by Conger with 6:14 left in the first half, but the Bulldogs used a 10-3 run in the final three minutes of the half to build a 39-30 lead.
The victory pushed Butler into a share of the Atlantic 10 lead with idle VCU (6-2), while St. Bonaventure fell to 9-58 all-time against ranked teams, including an 0-29 record on the road.
The Bonnies missed eight of their first 10 shots in the second half while Butler built its lead to 21 points at 56-35. St. Bonaventure wouldn't get closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
"The best part of holding them to that (in the second half) today was Roosevelt Jones didn't play the last 18 minutes,'' Stevens said. "If he's not our best defender he's one of our best.''
Jones went to the trainer's room after apparently injuring his shoulder. Stevens said Jones is "possible'' for the Bulldogs' game at George Washington on Saturday.
"We're not going to practice too hard the next couple of days, so we'll have to wait until Saturday (to see if Jones can play),'' Stevens said.
The Bulldogs will tweak their practice schedule to attend funeral services for Leonard Fromm, the father of Butler junior forward Erik Fromm.
Erik Fromm missed Butler's previous game, a win over Rhode Island, because of his father's death. He drew two standing ovations Wednesday night - when he entered the game in the first half and again when he hit a 3-pointer late in the victory.
"We love Erik, we support Erik,'' Marshall said. "He's like a brother to us. We are fortunate to have him there. Big compliments to his mom for moving the service back to Thursday so we could play this game.
"He's told me himself, basketball is something that really got him in the comfort zone.''
The Bulldogs found their comfort zone as a team on Wednesday.
"I wouldn't like to guard us,'' Stigall said. "We've got so many options. A lot of times, if guys are helping out on Rotnei, our bigs are slipping toward the basket.''
Butler shot 50 percent from the floor, with six players contributing to the Bulldogs' 11-of-26 shooting from 3-point range. Clarke (3 of 8) and Stigall (3 of 5) each made three 3-pointers.
Meanwhile, the Bonnies were just 4 of 9 from beyond the arc.