NEW YORK, N.Y. - In front of a sell-out crowd and national television audience, the Butler men's basketball team pulled away for a 68-63 win at Fordham on Saturday.
The Bulldogs overcame a 21-point, 6-rebound effort off the bench from Chris Gaston, a second team All-Atlantic 10 pick. Senior guard Rotnei Clarke totaled 22 points with four 3-pointers and he grabbed six rebounds. Sophomore Roosevelt Jones added 13 points and eight rebounds.
The Dawgs led 63-55 in the final minute but Fordham (6-20, 2-9) was able to close to 65-63 with 18 seconds to play. The Bulldogs closed it out by making four of six free throws and moving to 8-3 in Atlantic 10 Conference play.
The game's key stretch was a 16-2 run early in the second half. The Bulldogs made a run to lead 30-26 at halftime, but then trailed 35-30 with 16:30 left in the game. The game turned on a 16-2 run that lifted Butler to a 46-37 lead with 12:55 left in the game.
The Bulldogs led the rest of the game, but the Rams hit a pair of 3-pointers to cut the BU lead to 65-63 with 18 seconds on the clock. Five Butler free throws, made by Clarke and freshman Kellen Dunham, iced the game for BU.
The game marked the return of Andrew Smith, Butler's starting center who missed the home loss to Charlotte because of an abdominal injury. He had 12 points and made all six of his free throws, including four in the final 1:54. He was a game-time decision heading into Saturday's contest.
The Bulldogs (21-5, 8-3), who fly home tonight trailing VCU by a half-game in the Atlantic 10 standings, host the A-10's last place team, Duquesne, Tuesday, Feb. 19.