NEW YORK -- Butler had one flurry of 3-pointers in the first half and another in the second, each one providing a dagger for Dayton in its attempt at an upset in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
The barrage from outside, led by Rotnei Clarke and center Andrew Smith, helped fifth-seeded Bulldogs take control on their way to a 73-67 win over the Flyers at the Barclays Center on Thursday.
Clarke scored 21 points and Smith added 18 as the Bulldogs emerged with a victory in their first A-10 tournament game.
Erik Fromm added nine points for Butler (25-7, 12-5 A-10), including seven in a key stretch, Thursday at the Barclays Center.
Butler will play fourth-seeded La Salle (21-8, 11-5) on Friday at 2:30 p.m.
"Give Butler a great deal of credit. Tournament-tough, that's the word you've got to use when you play those guys," Dayton coach Archie Miller said. "Give them credit, they're not only going to have a chance to win this tournament, but don't be surprised if they're going to have a chance to win the big tournament.
"There's two major runs of the game that hurt us," Miller added. "In the first half, if you remember, I think they got about three in a row from behind the line, which gave them control. And then once we had control, they took it right back from us. ... The game was basically decided behind the 3-point line today."
Senior Josh Benson led the 12-seeded Flyers (17-13, 7-10) with 18 points. Fellow senior Kevin Dillard, a second-team all-conference pick, scored 15 points for Dayton, after hitting one field goal in the first half.
Both players, complimented by Miller for adjusting to the change they "didn't sign on for" when he replaced former coach Brian Gregory nearly two years ago, lamented the lost opportunity and said they'd trade their points for a victory.
"They did a good job of denying me," Dillard said of the Bulldogs' defensive effort on him in the first half. "In the second half, I just wanted to get a little more aggressive, penetrate. ... The points were good, but I'd rather take the win."
Fromm scored seven straight points for Butler late in the second half to help the Bulldogs earn some breathing room. His dunk on a fast break gave Butler its biggest lead of the game at that point, 62-52, with 5:18 left. It punctuated a 9-2 spurt and followed a layup and 3-pointer for Fromm during the run.
The Flyers were never able to threaten Butler the rest of the game.
"I thought the series of plays where Fromm, the three he hit, a couple of effort plays he had, separated the game," Butler coach Brad Stevens said.
After Dillard's subpar first half, which Dayton ended down three, he gave the Flyers their first lead since midway through the first half early in the second. His jumper put Dayton up 40-39 with 16:01 left. He added a 3-pointer less than a minute later for a four-point lead.
But Butler hit three straight 3-pointers, with Clarke hitting two of them, giving the Bulldogs a 48-45 lead when he hit one with 12:21 remaining.
"We just came out, probably, a little passive at first, weren't playing aggressive enough, not playing hard enough either, then we just got in the flow," Clarke said.
"That got us stabilized," Stevens said of the 3-point barrage. "Gave us a little bit of belief heading into the final 10 minutes."
Butler held a 33-30 lead at the half, with Clarke, the Bulldogs' first-team all-conference guard, scoring 11 points and Smith nine. The Bulldogs took a 30-22 lead thanks to a 9-3 run late in the first half. Smith hit consecutive 3-pointers and Clarke later added one to give Butler the eight-point advantage with 4:21 left in the half.
But Dayton closed within three by outscoring Butler 8-3 the rest of the way before the break as Dyshawn Pierre had four points and an assist during the stretch.
NOTEs: La Salle squeezed out a 54-53 home win over Butler on Jan. 23 in the teams' only matchup this season. "La Salle's a great team; we definitely have a big challenge ahead," Clarke said. ... Dayton finished the regular season having won four of its final six to make the tournament. ... Dayton and Butler led the A-10 in key stats, respectively, with Dayton leading the conference in field-goal percentage (48.9) and the Bulldogs owning the best rebound margin per game (plus-7.2). ... The Bulldogs, who had been ranked in the AP poll for 11 straight weeks before dropping out, dropped back-to-back contests to the tournament's top seeds, St. Louis and VCU. Butler then won its final two games before entering the tourney as the fifth seed, losing tiebreakers after finishing in a three-way tie for third. Clarke said the Bulldogs "got together and communicated as a team and figured out our roles, top to bottom," following the loss to VCU.