Butler holds off Providence

Providence, RI ( - Roosevelt Jones scored 16 points and Kellen Dunham added 15, as 21st-ranked Butler held off a furious Providence rally and held on for a 68-64 victory over the 24th-ranked Friars on Saturday at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.

Kelan Martin chipped in 14 points for the Bulldogs (22-9, 12-6 Big East), who nearly blew a 16-point lead in the second half. Butler won for the third time in its last four games and will be the third seed in the upcoming Big East Tournament.

"This is a heck of a win for our team," Butler coach Chris Holtmann said, according to the school's website. "Providence is a really good team."

The Bulldogs could have secured the second seed with a win Saturday and a loss by Georgetown against Seton Hall. The Hoyas, however, beat the Pirates and also finished with a 12-6 conference mark, but beat Butler twice during the regular season -- including a victory Tuesday in Indianapolis -- to earn the tiebreaker.

Providence (21-10, 11-7) needed only a win Saturday to wrap up the second seed. Kris Dunn led the Friars with 23 points and Tyler Harris contributed 17 in defeat.

Butler appeared on its way to an easy victory after a 3-pointer by Alex Barlow made it 46-30 with just over 13 minutes to play, but Providence picked up the pressure and scored 10 straight to draw within six. The Friars continued to chip away and a layup by Harris with 7 1/2 minutes to play made it a 50-49 game.

Martin was fouled and hit two free throws before burying a triple. Butler then came up with a pair of offensive rebounds on its next trip and Dunham added a shot from beyond the arc to extend the lead to nine.

Providence still didn't go away and a three-point play by Dunn with 49 seconds remaining pulled the Friars within 62-59. Barlow then received the inbounds pass and was nearly tied up. As he tried to call for a timeout, the officials whistled a foul against LaDontae Henton and Barlow calmly sank both from the line for a five-point edge.

After Kyron Cartwright missed a 3-point try for Providence, Kameron Woods drained two from the stripe with 30 seconds left to push the Butler lead back to seven.

A Dunn three with 12 seconds left made it a 68-64 game and the Bulldogs turned it over on the ensuing inbounds play, but Henton missed a 3-point try and time expired soon after.

Henton, the leading scorer in Big East games this season, made just 2-of-10 shots and finished with eight points -- well below his conference average of 20.8.

Providence finished a dismal 4-of-18 from 3-point range and shot 41.1 percent overall. Butler made just 39.2 percent of its shots but hit each of its 20 free throws.

Henton started the game with a 3-pointer for Providence, but Butler answered with the next nine points. The Friars briefly took a 15-14 lead, but the Bulldogs followed with a 15-2 run. Martin scored seven during the burst and Woods capped it with a pair of free throws for a 29-17 advantage with 4:21 remaining in the half.

Butler led by as many as 14 before taking a 33-22 margin to the intermission. A 7-2 run to start the second half pushed the Butler cushion to 40-24.

Game Notes

Barlow scored eight points in the victory ... Woods finished with six points and a game-high 12 rebounds ... The Bulldogs held a 39-27 advantage on the boards ... Providence was trying to reach 22 regular-season wins for the first time since 1977-78 ... The Friars had won the first three meetings, including a 66-62 triumph at Butler on Jan. 6.