Butler Advances To A-10 Semifinals

Butler Advances To A-10 Semifinals
Junior forward Khyle Marshall (Photo by John Fetcho)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Butler used a balanced offensive attack and a punishing rebounding effort to defeat third-seeded La Salle, 69-58, in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball Championship at the Barclays Center on Friday (March 15).  The victory sends the Bulldogs into a semifinals match-up with top-seeded Saint Louis.

Senior Rotnei Clarke, who didn't play in Butler's regular season loss at La Salle because of a neck injury, led five Bulldogs in double-figures with 14 points.  He had plenty of support.  Junior Khyle Marshall notched 13 points, senior Andrew Smith finished with 10 and sophomores Roosevelt Jones and Kameron Woods each added 10.

Woods, with another strong performance off the bench, and Smith led Butler to a commanding 41-23 rebounding advantage.  Woods grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, while Smith added eight.  The rebounding performance helped Butler to a 17-5 advantage in second chance points.

"I thought we had a number of contributions from a number of different guys," said Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the Bulldogs' win.  "I thought the difference between last time and this time, certainly adding Rotnei helps, but I thought our 'four' spot played great.  Both Khyle and Kam."

Marshall helped Butler to a strong start in the game, scoring 11 of his 13 points in the first half while helping the Bulldogs to a 37-35 halftime lead.  The Bulldogs improved to 16-1 this season when the 6-6 forward scores in double-figures.  

Woods grabbed all nine of his rebounds in the second half, when the Bulldogs stretched their lead to as many as 12 points.  He scored in double-figures for the third time in four games.

"He's really stepped his game up these last couple weeks," said Clarke of Woods.  "It starts in practice.  He works so hard in practice.  He's an extra spark for us when he comes in.  He's all over the boards and he makes all the energy plays, the effort plays."

The Bulldogs (26-7) only trailed once in the game at 32-31.  Smith erased that deficit with a pair of free throws and Woods followed with a jump shot to put Butler on top by three.  La Salle (21-9) tied the game at 35-35 on a three-point field goal by Tyrone Garland, but Jones scored with 20 seconds left in the opening period to give Butler the halftime lead.

Butler opened the second half with a 13-5 run to stretch the margin to 10 points, 50-40, and the Explorers were left playing catch-up got the final 12 minutes.

Garland led the Explorers with 17 points, while guard Tyreek Duren finished with 16.  Forward Jerrell Wright added 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Senior Ramon Galloway, who scored the game-winning basket at the buzzer in La Salle's 54-53 victory over Butler during the regular season, managed just four points on 1-10 shooting.  Jones spent the majority of the game guarding the All-Conference La Salle guard.

Butler now will face a Saint Louis team that has already beaten the Bulldogs twice this season.  The two teams will meet at 1:30 p.m. in the first of two semifinal games on Saturday.