Game #9-486: Dayton Flyers vs. Butler BulldogsMarch 14, 2013 2:30 pm
Can you imagine the excitement that can be generated from a Thursday mid-afternoon game at a neutral site? After sitting through one, I'd give it a less than hearty endorsement. Nevertheless, the schedule dictated that Butler and Dayton would square off here in Brooklyn among a largely empty house. Even the local school group that dropped in for the last three quarters of the Richmond-Charlotte game (their arrival nearly doubled the then-current attendance) had to go home before this one tipped; so it was that the Butler team that played before packed houses on every A-10 road trip played before very much the opposite in the conference tournament. If you want to prove that you belong in the NCAA tournament, or more accurately if you want to avoid proving that you don't belong, you don't want to lose to the worst seeded team in your conference tournament. Some of the advanced computer metrics would suggest that Dayton is much better than the 12th best team in the A-10, even to the point where they'd be looked at as a potential bubble team by some measures. Obviously, Dayton isn't going to get an at-large bid, but they do make you more than a little nervous as you get lined up to play them.
Vee Sanford picked up a couple of quick buckets for Dayton, and the Flyers used that to maintain a lead for most of the first ten minutes of the contest. Butler's offense was lethargic at best. Freshman Kellen Dunham was fairly active with his off the ball movement and hunted shots, but his aim was inaccurate. Rotnei Clarke helped keep the Bulldogs close, and Butler actually held a small lead when a brief three-point barrage allowed them to open a bit of a margin. Within a four possession sequence, Butler big man Andrew Smith hit a pair of threes, and Clarke added another, giving Butler a 30-22 edge. From that point, Butler hit another lull, and Dayton's Dyshawn Pierre keyed an end-of-half comeback that closed the margin to 33-30 at the half.
In that late first-half run, Dayton found a vulnerability in Butler defense, and they exploited that prominently in the early stages of the second half. Kevin Dillard (among others) was able to successfully penetrate and get good looks at the basket on his own, or find good looks for his teammates. With the Bulldogs struggling to get a stop, Dillard pulled up from long range off the fast break and knocked down a superhoop to give the Flyers a 43-39 lead. At this point, Butler unleashed another barrage of long-range shots. Clarke, Dunham, and again Clarke connected on three-pointers on three consecutive possessions, allowing Butler to regain the lead. For the next five minutes, Butler's lead teetered in the 3-5 point range, with Dayton hanging well within threatening range. That threat was halted during a brief stretch featuring Butler bench players, Alex Barlow and Erik Fromm.
Barlow came up with an acrobatic steal, then led the fast break expertly with a nice pass to Fromm for a layup. On the next possession, Fromm (despite my protestations from the stands) connected on a three-pointer. He attempted a "heat check" of sorts on the next possession with another superhoop try, and confirmed that he wasn't hot enough to keep trying those. On the next possession, Fromm got a breakaway dunk off of a turnover. Finally, he closed things off with a layup off of a nice cut in the halfcourt offense. I n that span of less than three minutes, Fromm scored all nine of Butler's points, and took five of the six shots he'd attempt over the entire contest. For a good kid who'd gone through adversity this season, it was good to see Fromm have that bit of success when his team really needed it.
Fromm's flurry left Butler with a 64-54 lead with just over four minutes to go. Dayton continued to battle until the final horn, but could never cut into the lead enough to present a significant concern. Butler advances to face off against LaSalle. Dayton goes home as one of the better conference #12 seeds in recent memory, and will have a chance to make a good run through one of the lesser post-season tournaments.
BUTLER 73, DAYTON 67
DAYTON 17-14 (7-9) -- C. Beatty 9-13 2-2 26; K. Dillard 5-9 3-4 15; D. Pierre 3-10 6-6 12; J. Benson 9-17 0-2 18; V. Sanford 5-9 1-1 11; J. Robinson 2-4 0-2 4; K. Price 1-1 0-0 2; D. Scott 1-1 1-2 3; D. Oliver 1-4 0-0 2; M. Derenbecker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-55 11-17 67.
BUTLER 25-7 (11-5) -- R. Jones 2-7 0-0 4; R. Clarke 7-14 1-2 21; A. Smith 6-11 4-6 18; K. Dunham 1-7 6-7 9; A. Barlow 0-1 0-0 0; K. Woods 1-3 1-2 3; K. Marshall 3-8 3-4 9; E. Fromm 4-6 0-0 9; C. Stigall 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-57 15-21 73.
Three-point goals: UD 2-4 (K. Dillard 2-3; D. Pierre 0-1), BUTL 10-24 (R. Clarke 6-12; A. Smith 2-3; E. Fromm 1-3; K. Dunham 1-6); Rebounds: UD 29 (J. Robinson 9), BUTL 28 (K. Woods 7); Assists: UD 7 (K. Dillard 2), BUTL 17 (R. Jones 6); Total Fouls -- UD 18, BUTL 15; Fouled Out: UD-D. Oliver; BUTL-None.