WASHINGTON -- Rotnei Clarke had 14 points Saturday as No. 14 Butler held on to beat host George Washington, 59-56, at The Smith Center to spoil homecoming before a sellout crowd in an Atlantic 10 Conference game.
It was the first-ever meeting between the teams.
Butler (20-4, 7-2 in Atlantic 10) also got 12 points from Roosevelt Jones and held on to win after building a double digit lead in the second half.
The Bulldogs began the day tied for first in the conference with Virginia Commonwealth and Saint Louis, while George Washington was tied for fourth with Charlotte, La Salle, Massachusetts and Xavier.
The Bulldogs committed 19 turnovers, with many late in the game before a frenzied crowd.
Villanova transfer Isaiah Armwood had 14 points for George Washington (11-11, 5-4), which made only 24.2 percent of its shots in the first half and was out-rebounded, 30-13.
Butler had 10 turnovers at halftime but the Bulldogs were able to score many of their points early in the paint and then started getting some outside shots in the second half from Clarke.
The game was delayed briefly with 5:14 left in the first half when veteran referee Joe DeMayo came up limping after a Butler defensive rebound.
DeMayo called time out and walked to the George Washington bench. He left the court on his own power, with an athletic trainer by his side. The game continued with two referees and a third official joined them in the second half.
Butler took a 41-27 lead on a tipin by Khyle Marshall with 14:20 left in the game, and the Bulldogs built the lead to 46-31 on a 3-pointer by Clarke with 12:50 left.
Clarke's basket made it 48-31 seconds later George Washington went on a run and cut the lead to 53-43 with 5:52 to go.
George Washington battled to within 57-54 on a basket by Lasan Kromah with 52.4 seconds to go. Joe McDonald hit two free throws with 44.5 seconds left to make it 57-56, but Butler's Kellen Dunham made two throws with 23.8 seconds left to make it 59-56.
McDonald missed a 3-pointer with 11 seconds to go and Butler got the rebound, an out of bounds infraction gave the ball to George Washington, which missed another shot at the buzzer.
The Bulldogs led, 31-22, at halftime as Jones had 10 points.
George Washington led, 10-6, before Butler went on a 10-0 to take a 16-10 advantage on a dunk by Kameron Woods and the Bulldogs led the rest of the way.
The Bulldogs upped their lead to double digits for the first time with 8:24 left in the first half on a driving layup off the glass by Jones to make it 23-12.
George Washington trimmed the lead to 29-22 but a basket by Woods in the last seconds of the first half gave Butler a nine-point lead at halftime.
Butler was the highest-ranked team to visit George Washington since No. 5 Temple visited in 2000.
George Washington was coming off a victory at Duquesne on Wednesday, while Butler won at home the same day against St. Bonaventure after losing two of its previous four games.
The Colonials had won four of their previous five games.
NOTES: Andrew Smith is the last holdover from the Butler teams that made the 2010 and 2011 national title games. ... The Bulldogs advanced to post-season play for the seventh year in a row last season, which tied a school record. ... The Bulldogs beat No. 1 Indiana in overtime on Dec. 15. ... George Washington marked the 20th anniversary of its 1993 Sweet 16 team on Saturday.