Butler edges Hawks in A-10 opener
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Rotnei Clarke snapped out of a recent mini slump and Butler passed its first test in the Atlantic 10.
Clarke nailed six 3-pointers and netted 28 points in No. 14 Butler's Atlantic 10 debut, a 72-66 triumph over Saint Joseph's.
The Arkansas transfer Clarke, who tallied just 10 points while going 2-of-15 from beyond the arc over his last two games coming in, was 6-of-10 from 3- point range Wednesday.
Andrew Smith added 24 points -- one off his career high -- and 10 rebounds for the Bulldogs (13-2, 1-0 A-10), who have reeled off 10 straight victories.
"Andrew really settled us down," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "And Rotnei, every time they'd cut it to two it seemed like Rotnei would hit one and get it back to five or hit one to tie it up."
Chris Wilson nailed four treys within the first five minutes and finished with 15 points to lead the Hawks (8-5, 0-1), who had a three-game winning streak snapped.
Clarke's triple with 7:42 left was part of a 9-0 run and gave the Bulldogs the lead for good, an advantage they didn't possess since 16:52 showed on the second-half clock. Clarke's jumper capped the swing and made it 61-56 in favor of Butler with 6:12 remaining.
A bit later, the Hawks used a mini 5-2 sprint to pull within 68-66 with 2:56 to go, but Langston Galloway missed a potential game-tying jumper with 2:06 to play.
Following two Smith free throws, Carl Jones missed a jumper, and after Roosevelt Jones turned it over for Butler, Galloway missed a pair of triples.
"I would love to have them back," Galloway said of his missed 3-point tries. "I was wide open, but came up short."
Alex Barlow, though, missed the front end of a 1-and-1 at the other end. But once again, the Hawks misfired twice from beyond the arc, these by Halil Kanacevic.
A pair of Clarke free throws with two ticks left sealed the win.
Wilson's four early treys helped St. Joe's jump out to a 15-9 advantage before heading into the locker room with a 40-35 edge.
This was the first time these two teams have met since Jan. 31, 1941, a St. Joe's victory. ... Prior to this season, Butler had won five straight regular season Horizon League titles before finishing third in the conference a year ago.