Butler 75, Rhode Island 68

Chris Goff, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

INDIANAPOLIS -- After a one-sided defeat at Saint Louis, Butler happily returned to the friendly confines of Hinkle Fieldhouse.
The Bulldogs made themselves right at home under the basket to run their home winning streak to 15 games.
Ninth-ranked Butler survived a late charge by feisty Rhode Island to win 75-68 Saturday afternoon. Butler did not make a field goal in the final 4:38 but connected on 8 of 10 free throws down the stretch to clinch the win. Sixteen of Butler's 23 field goals came on layups and dunks.
After trailing by 13 points, Rhode Island edged within 72-68 with 1:01 remaining but got no closer.
Rotnei Clarke scored a game-high 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting to lead the Bulldogs (18-4, 5-2 Atlantic 10). Butler shot 49 percent from the field to improve to 11-0 at the fieldhouse this season.
Rhode Island (6-14, 1-6) has lost four straight and six of eight. The last four losses have come by a combined 17 points. Nikola Malesevic led the Rams with 18 points. Xavier Munford and Mike Powell added 14 each.
Clarke enjoyed his eighth game of at least 20 points. He had 12 20-point outings in three seasons at Arkansas.
Rhode Island continued its trend of playing competitive first halves. The Rams had led, tied or trailed by no more than three points at the break in each of their previous five games. On Saturday, Rhode Island used a combination of aggressive defense and solid ball movement to lead Butler 32-30.
The Rams led most of the way after Hare scored in close to make it 8-6 four minutes into the game. Butler finally retook the advantage when two free throws by Andrew Smith, his first points of the game, put the Bulldogs on top 30-28 with 3:49 remaining.
The Rams seized their largest lead at 25-16 after Munford set up Hare for a soaring lob in transition. After a timeout, Roosevelt Jones converted a three-point play to trigger a 14-3 run in response by Butler. During the burst of more than four minutes, Rhode Island missed 3 of 4 shots, committed two turnovers and was whistled for five fouls.
NOTES: Len Fromm, the father of Butler F/C Erik Fromm, died Saturday morning after a battle with cancer. Butler held a moment of silence before the national anthem. ... The Bulldogs have won at least 10 home games in 18 consecutive seasons. ... The sellout crowd was Butler's third of the season. The school says two upcoming home dates are already sold out, which sets a season record at five. ... Smith became the 34th player in school history to score 1,000 points. ... Munford was helped off the floor with 13:22 remaining. His left foot was taped by trainer Mike Monteiro, and Munford re-entered the game with 11:05 left.

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