Late Shot Sinks No. 9 Bulldogs
PHILADELPHIA, PA. -- Ramon Galloway scored on a lay-up with 0:02.4 remaining to lift host La Salle to a 54-53 victory over No. 9 Butler in an Atlantic 10 Conference game at Tom Gola Arena on Wednesday (Jan. 23). The loss snapped Butler's 13-game winning streak and handed the Bulldogs their first A-10 setback in four outings.
Galloway's game-winner came seconds after Butler had taken a 53-52 lead on a basket by Andrew Smith with just over eight seconds remaining. The Explorers (13-5, 3-2 A-10) found Galloway on the in-bounds play, and the senior guard drove the length of the floor to notch the decisive basket.
Butler's Roosevelt Jones, who four days earlier hit a shot at the buzzer to defeat No. 8 Gonzaga, tried a desperation halfcourt attempt at the buzzer, but his shot bounced off the backboard and the front of the rim, setting off a wild, on-court celebration by La Salle's students.
The loss was Butler's first since Nov. 21, when the Bulldogs lost to Illinois in the championship game of the Maui Invitational. It dropped the Bulldogs to 16-3 on the season.
"La Salle did a great job and certainly earned the win," said Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the game. "Both teams played hard. We were sloppy, obviously, but that was due to La Salle and not so much due to anything we were trying to do. I just thought they did a very good job."
The Bulldogs were playing their third consecutive game without leading scorer Rotnei Clarke, who suffered a severe neck sprain in the first half of Butler's win at Dayton on Jan. 12. Clarke, who ranks second in the A-10 in three-point field goals per game, was the second-leading scorer in the conference at the time of his injury.
In Clarke's absence, Smith, sophomore Roosevelt Jones and freshman Kellen Dunham stepped up to lead Butler to a 28-23 halftime lead. Jones gave the Bulldogs a 5-4 advantage with a lay-up three minutes into the contest, and Butler stretched the margin to as many as 10 points, 25-15, on a three-point play by Jones with just under four minutes remaining in the opening period.
But the host Explorers, boasting a 7-1 record at home, turned up the defensive intensity in the second half and climbed back into the contest.
"They were doing a lot (defensively) of what they were doing in the first half, but they were doing it better," noted Stevens.
La Salle outscored the Bulldogs, 20-12, in the first eleven-and-a-half minutes of the final period to take a 43-40 lead, and the host squad held the advantage until the final minute of play. Smith, who scored Butler's final 11 points, capped Butler's comeback and scored on a lay-up with 0:51 left to put the Bulldogs on top, 51-50.
Sam Mills, who scored 11 points in the game, answered with a jump shot to put the Explorers back on top with 0:32 left, setting up the final game sequence.
Smith finished with 16 points to share game scoring honors with La Salle's Tyreek Duren, and he led all players with eight rebounds. Dunham added 15 points, including all three of Butler's three-point field goals, while Jones finished with 14.
"Our guys played hard," stated Stevens. "La Salle was able to get us out of our rhythm. They can do that with their speed and playing those four guards most of the game. And they were very effective. They were very good."
The Bulldogs, led by Smith, finished with a 29-26 rebounding advantage, but La Salle came up with 10 steals and forced 13 Butler turnovers. The Explorers also had five blocked shots in the game.
Butler will return home to host Temple in another Atlantic 10 Conference game on Saturday, Jan. 26. The game at Hinkle Fieldhouse will start at 6 p.m. (ET).