Bulldogs battle Billikens in Atlantic 10 semifinals
Brooklyn, NY – The top-seeded Saint Louis Billikens look to take one step closer to their first-ever Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament title as they square off with the fifth-seeded Butler Bulldogs in the semifinals at the Barclays Center.
The winner of this game will take on either Massachusetts or VCU in Sunday's title game.
The Bulldogs are also looking for their first-ever A-10 Tournament championship as well after winning the Horizon League Tournament in three of the last five years. Coach Brad Stevens has guided Butler to a pair of second-place finishes in the national tournament as well, which means it should never be counted out in the postseason under any circumstance. Rotnei Clarke led the team with 14 points on Friday as it avenged a regular-season loss with a 69-58 win over La Salle in the quarterfinals.
Khyle Marshall added 13 points and five rebounds for the Bulldogs, who have won four straight games on the heels of losing three times in a five-game stretch. Andrew Smith, Roosevelt Jones and Kameron Woods each added 10 points to round out a balanced effort. Butler hit on 49.1 percent of its field goal tries and outrebounded the Explorers, 41-23, en route to the win. The Bulldogs are 3-0 versus top 25 competition on the season.
This will be the 30th meeting in history between these schools. Saint Louis owns an 18-11 all-time series edge after completing the season sweep with a 75-58 rout at home and also a 65-61 win at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Dwayne Evans was nearly perfect for the Billikens in their postseason debut, as he posted 25 points and nine rebounds to lead them to a 72-55 victory over Charlotte. Jim Crews, filling in for the late Rick Majerus, led his squad to their first outright regular-season conference title since capturing the Missouri Valley Conference in 1956-57. Evans went 8-of-9 from the field and 9- of-9 from the charity stripe for Saint Louis, which has won 13 of its last 14 games.
Cody Ellis added 13 points, but was just 3-of-13 from the floor and 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. Saint Louis shot just 37.5 percent (21-of-56) but forced 20 turnovers while giving the ball away just 10 times. The Billikens also outscored the 49ers 25-12 at the free-throw line.
Evans leads the veteran group of Billikens with 12.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per tilt, while Kwamain Mitchell tallies 10.2 points, 2.9 assists and 1.1 steals per outing.