Hot-Shooting Charlotte Stops Butler

Hot-Shooting Charlotte Stops Butler
Junior Erik Fromm (Photo by John Fetcho)

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Visiting Charlotte shot a sizzling 54% for the game and held off a late-charging Butler squad to pick up a 71-67 victory at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Wednesday (Feb. 13).  The win snapped Butler's 12-game homecourt winning streak.

Guard Pierria Henry scored 17 points and three teammates added double-figures' totals to lead the 49ers to the upset of nationally-ranked Butler.  The Bulldogs entered the game ranked No. 10 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 11 in the Associated Press Poll.

The Bulldogs, playing without second-leading scorer and rebounder Andrew Smith who was sidelined with injury, shot just 39% for the game and trailed by as many as ten points late in the second half.

"The right team won," said Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the game.

"I knew Charlotte coming in was going to be really hard for us to match up with, in large part because their strengths are certainly something that we counter better with Andrew (Smith) than without him," continued the Butler coach.  "That being said, we had opportunities and we didn't take advantage of them."

Butler (20-5, 7-3 A-10) hit just 11 of 33 shots in the first half and trailed 29-27 at halftime.  Leading scorer Rotnei Clarke was held to just three points on one of six shooting in the opening 20 minutes.

The 49ers (18-6, 6-4 A-10), who shot 57% from the field in the first period, continued to build on their advantage behind a strong inside game in the second half.  Henry hit a jump shot with 4:26 remaining to give the visitors a 59-49 advantage and the lead remained at ten points with under four minutes left.

That's when Clarke heated up.  The 6-0 guard, who entered the game as the fourth-leading scorer in the A-10, scored 15 points in the final 3:21 and gave the Bulldogs a chance to salvage the outcome.  His fifth three-pointer of the game with nine seconds remaining drew the Bulldogs to within one point of Charlotte, 68-67.

Butler quickly fouled Henry with seven seconds left, and the Charlotte guard hit one of two free throw attempts.  Butler pushed the ball up-court and called a timeout with three seconds left.  But the 49ers came up with a steal on the in-bounds play and E. Victor Nickerson closed out the scoring with a pair of free throws.

"If (the ball) would have landed in Rotnei's hands, I probably would have let it play out," Stevens said of the last sequence.  "I don't like to take timeouts; I like the situation where their defense isn't set."

Clarke led all players with 18 points, while sophomore Roosevelt Jones added 17 points and nine rebounds.  Fromm, who was given a starting assignment, chipped in with a season-high 13 points and a career-high nine rebounds, while freshman Kellen Dunham had 12 points.

But the Bulldogs had zero points and just six rebounds off the bench.

"I didn't think we had a lot of guys play their best, and sometimes when you've got a guy out, you've got to rise up and do what you do well," noted Stevens.  "You don't have to do anything more than that, but you have to do what you do well."

Butler won't have much time to regroup.  The Bulldogs travel to New York to face Fordham on Saturday, Feb. 16.  The game at Rose Hill Gym will start at 4 p.m. (ET).