Butler may have gotten more of a test than they expected from the Dayton Flyers, but ultimately the Bulldogs pulled out a 73-67 win Thursday afternoon at Barclays Center in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Rotnei Clarke had 21 points to go along with five assists in the win, and seemed to always have an answer to a Dayton run.
Butler now advances to face fourth-seeded La Salle in the second round. A three-way tie for third in the Atlantic 10 left Butler with the No. 5 seed and the burden of having to play in the tournament's opening round and will face a rested Explorers squad Friday afternoon.
But in order to advance, the Bulldogs needed a big effort late. Dayton went on a 13-6 run to start the second half and take a 43-39 lead, prompting Butler coach Brad Stevens to take a timeout. After the break, Butler hit three from beyond the arc in the span of 1:25 to go back up three. Clarke made two of them.
From there, Butler slowly started to stretch the lead. A dunk from Erik Fromm with 5:15 remaining made it 62-52 and gave the Bulldogs their first double-digit lead of the game.
The Flyers didn't have another run left in them. Four Dayton players scored in double figures, including Josh Benson, who had 18 points, but Butler had too much firepower. Andrew Smith had 18 points and six rebounds to help out Clarke. Fromm also came off the bench to score nine.