The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update


March 21, 2013

Butler rolls past Bucknell in second half

Bulldogs will face Marquette on Saturday

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Butler appears to have a little March magic left in it.

There aren’t many Bulldogs left from the back-to-back national finalist teams of 2010 and 2011, but Thursday’s 68-56 Lexington Regional second-round over Bucknell felt a little familiar.

Butler closed on a 37-19 run to improve to 11-2 in its last three tournament appearances. Brad Stevens’ Bulldogs teams are now 12-4 all-time in the tourney.

Pendleton Heights graduate Kellen Dunham missed all four of his field goal attempts for Butler but hit both of his free throws for two points.

“This truly is a Butler team, which I feel really good about,” Bulldogs coach Brad Stevens said of his 27-8 squad. “They have some mettle, some intestinal fortitude that is built up over time.”

After struggling for most of the afternoon, senior Rotnei Clarke finished with a Butler-best 17 points, including a big 22-foot 3-pointer while falling down that gave the Bulldogs a 56-45 lead with 1:40 left.

“It was just a good feeling because it extended the lead a little,” Clarke said. “We knew if we had a couple more stops, it could seal the game.”

The Arkansas transfer, who was playing in his first NCAA tournament game, scored 13 of his 17 points in the final 8:40 and he capped an 8-0 run that took the Bulldogs from 37-31 down into a 39-37 lead midway through the second half.

“I just feel extremely blessed to be able to play in the tournament. That’s why I made the decision to come to Butler,” he said. “I knew I would have the opportunity to play in a lot of big games and a lot of huge atmospheres. This is as big as it gets. Just excited to be here.”

As Butler fans know, it does getter bigger. The sixth-seeded Bulldogs will face 3-seed Marquette, which beat Davidson with a stunning 59-58 come-from-behind victory, in Saturday’s third round at Rupp Arena.

Andrew Smith — one of  only two Bulldogs with significant NCAA Tournament experience — added 14 points and a career-high 16 boards and helped slow two-time Patriot League Player of the Year Mike Muscala, whose nine points was 10 below his average.

“[Smith is] a very good post defender,” Muscala said. “You know, I tried to be aggressive. I thought I had some decent looks, [but] he did a really good job of being physical with me.”

“I think Muscala is terrific,” Stevens said. “But, you know, I think Andrew Smith is terrific, too.”

Roosevelt Jones finished with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Alex Barlow contributed 10 points and five boards to the Bulldogs’ cause.

“He was really good,” Stevens said of Jones. “Rosy is an interesting offensive player because he doesn’t shoot jump shots — ever — and he’s great at floaters. He’s obviously able to score in the post.”

Bucknell’s Joe Willman, who had a game-high 20 points on 10 of 16 from the field, hit a deep 2-pointer with 10:08 left that gave the Bison a 37-31 lead.

After that, it was all Butler.

Dunham sparked the game-determining run with a pair of free throws before Smith hit a 3 out of the corner off of an inbounds play and Clarke hit his first 3-pointer of the contest to recapture the lead for the Bulldogs with 8:40 remaining. “Smith hit a big 3 and that kind of settled us down,” Stevens said.

Following a Ryan Frazier 3-point play that temporarily switched the advantage back to the Bison, a Smith hook shot gave Butler the lead for good at 41-40 with 7:46 left.

A Jones drive with 5:47 left gave the Bulldogs a 45-42 lead and kick-started a 10-0 run. If that run didn’t put Bucknell away, Clarke’s 3 one minute later certainly did.

“We’ve got to give a lot of credit to Butler,” Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen said. “We made our run in the second half and they came up with the big plays down the stretch. They don’t get rattled. We made a great run, but they’re going to come back.”

Both teams struggled to put the ball in the basket in the opening half of the tournament. The Bulldogs knocked down just nine of their 28 field goal attempts and still led 21-14 at the half.

“It may not have been esthetic game the entire game,” Stevens admitted. “But our defense was really good in the first half. It took us a while to get comfortable offensively.”

No Bulldog struggled more in the first half than Clarke, who was 2 for 8 and missed all four of his 3-point shots. Butler missed its first 13 shots from behind the 3-point arc. “I have a lot of support from the coaching staff and my teammates,” Clarke said. “They continued to tell me to shoot the ball, and when you can play free and have no worries, it feels pretty good.”

Clarke’s first-half struggles were nothing compared to Muscala, who scored the first bucket of the contest — an 18-footer 20 seconds in — before missing his next nine shots. “We were really good today [on defense],” Jones said. “Today we didn’t shoot well, but luckily our defense bailed us out.”

All-Patriot guard Bryson Johnson, who averages 11.1 points per game, spent much of the afternoon on the bench in foul trouble. The senior only took one shot in the first half and missed before scoring nine points in the final 2 minutes and 14 seconds of the contest.

Jones broke a 6-6 tie with a 3-point play then hit a runner in the lane to give Butler an 11-6 advantage. Jones scored seven of the Bulldogs’ first 11 points. Willman’s fourth bucket of the game cut the Butler advantage to 15-12 before an offensive putback by Jones and a steal and bucket from Barlow gave the Bulldogs their largest lead at 19-12. Clarke responded to a Kaspar 14-footer with a deep 2 with 58 seconds left to close the first-half scoring.

Khyle Marshall scored five early second-half points and the Butler lead ballooned to 29-18 lead with 16:27 to play. However, Bucknell answered with eight straight points in less than a minute to trim the deficit to 29-26 with 15:10 remaining and force a Bulldog timeout.

After the timeout, a Jones fastbreak drive pushed the Butler lead back to five, but the Bison responded again, this time with an 11-0 spurt that gave them a 37-31 lead. Willman scored six of the 11 — on 3of 3 shooting — and Bucknell had tallied 23 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half after only 14 in the entire first.

“We knew they were going to make a run,” Smith said of the Bison. “Fortunately, we were able to fight back. Being in big games and having four years of experience definitely helps.”

Text Only
  • SPT - HB0418 - PHHS vs Alex - 017 Arabians hold off Alex to reach semifinals Good teams don't need much help. That didn't stop Pendleton Heights from accepting a little aid from Alexandria in the second round of the Nick Muller Memorial Baseball Tournament on Thursday.

    April 17, 2014 3 Photos

  • Panthers claw way into softball semis If only Elwood's Jessie Noone had missed the team bus, Thursday's game in the Madison County Softball Tournament would have been more competitive.

    April 17, 2014

  • Ravens drove Manchester to avoid sweep NORTH MANCHESTER — The Anderson University baseball team defeated Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference leader Manchester University 9-5 on Wednesday at Gratz Field. Andrew Eiler led the Raven offense with three hits, three runs and an RBI, including one of four home runs the visitors hit.

    April 17, 2014

  • Elwood, Liberty Christian advance in county softball tournament The 2014 Madison County Softball tournament got off to a wild start at Liberty Christian on Wednesday night as Elwood and the host Liberty Christian Lions advanced with victories.

    April 17, 2014

  • SPT - HB0417 - Nick Muller - 05 Bulldogs, Indians impress in openers Lapel and Anderson have very different histories in the Nick Muller Memorial Baseball Tournament.

    April 16, 2014 5 Photos

  • SPT - HB0417 - Pendleton v Mad Grant 2 Eagles, Arabians move to second round Frankton got off to an uneven start, falling behind 4-3 and 6-4, but rallied for a 14-6 triumph over Alexandria in the first round of the Madison County Softball Tournament here Wednesday. In the second contest, Pendleton Heights topped Madison-Grant 2-1 in a game where both runs and hits were at a premium.

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • Rick Bramwell: Improving weather should aid morels When I looked at my wilted daffodils Tuesday morning, I knew this would be a setback for morels. The long-range forecast through April 29 calls for near normal temperatures and above normal precipitation. This is good news for the blacks and grays.

    April 16, 2014

  • SPL - PT041014 - Ken de la Bastide column - Ken sig Ken de la Bastide: Hunter-Reay's blunder proves costly A lack of patience cost Ryan Hunter-Reay and teammate James Hinchcliffe a chance at victory last weekend in the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Long Beach.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0416 - tennis file - 14 Many girls tennis teams return top talent With spring sports getting off to a good start thanks to some spring-like weather last week, local girls tennis teams are taking to the court.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wild week will get later start The busiest week on Madison County's high school sports calendar is going to start a day later than expected.

    April 14, 2014