Duquesne coach Jim Ferry got a glimpse into his future plans Tuesday night.
He watched No. 15 Butler play lockdown defense, rely on balanced scoring and win going away. If the Dukes can follow that recipe, they might start winning again.
It just couldn't happen soon enough to avoid this defeat. Rotnei Clarke scored 16 points, Khyle Marshall had 14 and Andrew Smith just missed a double-double as the Bulldogs pulled away for an easy 68-49 romp over the reeling Dukes.
"I thought we played extremely hard tonight, but I thought we were significantly out-talented,'' Ferry said. "That's one of the best defensive teams I've seen in a long time. They're extremely disciplined and when they're so balanced offensively, that's a really tough game to win, especially here.''
It's already been a long season for the Dukes (8-18, 1-11 Atlantic 10), who have won only two road games - at Appalachian State and at Temple - and have now dropped 15 of their last 17.
Derrick Colter scored 11 points and was the only Dukes player to reach double figures in their latest loss. Jerry Jones, who had nine points and four baskets, and Kadeem Panthophlet and Sean Johnson, who each had seven points and three baskets, were the only other Duquesne players with more than two field goals.
Nobody had more than five rebounds, three assists. The Dukes shot just 37.3 percent from the field and were 5 of 21 on 3-pointers and finished with their third-lowest point total of the season.
"They force you out, they contest shots and you don't get a sniff of an offensive rebound,'' Ferry said.
The Bulldogs (22-5, 9-3 Atlantic 10) needed a game like this after dealing with so many close calls - and so many injuries - over the past month.
Clarke went down in a frightening collision with the basket support at Dayton on Jan. 12. The Bulldogs rallied without their leading scorer, beating the Flyers and winning two of the next three games Clarke missed. He's been scoring nearly 20 points per game since returning and against Duquesne, he managed to score eight second-half points despite taking only two shots over the final 20 minutes.
On Feb. 6 at St. Bonaventure, Jones, who beat Gonzaga with a late steal and a buzzer-beating floater, went down with a shoulder injury. He's been wearing a brace ever since and had posted three straight double-figure games heading into Tuesday. He didn't hit that number against the Dukes, but he still finished with good numbers: Six points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Last week, the Bulldogs lost their only home game of the season with Smith on the bench with an abdominal injury. On Tuesday, he was back to his old self, scoring eight points, grabbing 10 rebounds and delivering assists on Butler's first two baskets.
And now that Butler has everybody reasonably healthy heading into the season's final stretch, the defense has becoming almost impenetrable, too.
"I thought our guys were ready, I thought our guys played hard and I thought our guys played well,'' coach Brad Stevens said. "Our guys really locked in defensively and I thought we played at a much better pace.''
For the Bulldogs, it wasn't a perfect night by any stretch.
Without their usually crisp passing early, Butler's shooters struggled.
But when they warmed up, Duquesne (8-18, 1-11) never had a chance.
Butler has now won five of its last six, improved to 13-1 at home and managed to keep pace with Virginia Commonwealth and St. Louis, the two teams ahead of it in the regular-season race. The victory margin matched the Bulldogs' second-largest of the season, behind only the 32-point win it had over crosstown rival IUPUI.
"I think collectively, we're guarding better now,'' Marshall said. "We held another great 3-point shooting team to 49 points, so that's great.''
At first, it didn't look like it would be this easy.
But the Bulldogs turned a 15-12 lead into a 20-12 advantage when Clarke hit a 3-pointer and followed that with a 15-foot floater. Kellen Dunham scored the next eight for Butler, six coming on a pair of 3-pointers, and the lead increased to 28-17. Alex Barlow and Smith followed that barrage with two more 3s in the final 98 seconds of the first half, sending Butler to the locker room with a 36-22 lead.
That was all Butler needed to turn this game into a rout.
Marshall opened the second half by scoring nine points in Butler's 13-7 run, which pushed the lead to 49-29, and Duquesne never got closer than 15 the rest of the way.
"Everybody's healthy, everybody's playing and that's good,'' said Steven, whose 161st career win tied North Carolina State's Everett Case for the second-most victories by a coach in his first six seasons. "I think we did a pretty good job thru the injuries and what I prefer to call the curveballs. ... I'm proud of what this team has accomplished up to this point, but by no means are we satisfied.''
Duquesne coach Jim Ferry got a glimpse into his future plans Tuesday night.
3A AREA PLAYOFFS: Verdigris battles Tahlequah Sequoyah in Checotah
Verdigris senior guard Caitlyn Hanslovan drained two key 3-pointers during Saturday’s Class 3A Regional Finals that provided a spark and a huge win over Vian.
Hanslovan, who is accustomed to winning state championships in soccer, will look to move the No. 3-ranked Lady Cardinals one step closer toward a berth in the 3A State Tournament at 6:30 p.m. on Friday in the area finals against Tahlequah Sequoyah at Checotah High School.
Catoosa HS set to host Class 6A Girls Area; 5A Boys Area tourneys
For high school basketball enthusiasts in Rogers County, Catoosa High School is the place to be on Thursday and Friday.
Catoosa High School will host the Class 6A Girls Area and Class 5A Boys Area over the two-day period.
Class 3A Regional Champions
It’s takes two to tango and the Verdigris basketball teams are dancing their way to the Class 3A Area Finals.
With a state tournament berth on the line Friday night, both Verdigris teams return to a familiar place on the road to state in Oklahoma City.
The Class 3A No. 3-ranked Lady Cardinals waltzed past Vian, 58-46 and the No. 4-ranked Cardinals decked Eufaula, 66-53 to cap off the regional championship night Saturday inside the Jack Collins Fieldhouse.
Claremore set to host 4A Area Basketball Tournament
Claremore High School will be a busy place Thursday through Saturday with several of the state’s top Class 4A basketball teams competing in the area tournament.
West Virginia, Baylor top Big 12 Women's BB Tourney
It took West Virginia two years to make a splash in the Big 12.
The seventh-ranked Mountaineers earned a share of the regular-season title in their second year in the league and take a 10-game win streak into the conference tournament that starts Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
BIG 12 MBB: No. 16 Iowa State looks to close with win over Oklahoma State
Iowa State is more than ready for the postseason after playing 17 games in the nation's most grueling conference.
Still, the Cyclones wouldn't mind picking up a little momentum before heading to the Big 12 tournament and beyond.
No. 16 Iowa State (22-7, 10-7 Big 12) has dropped its last two games, road losses to Kansas State and Baylor, after going 7-1 in February.
NBA CAPSULES: Duncan paces Spurs past Heat
Tim Duncan had 23 points and 11 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs never trailed against the Miami Heat, weathering a sluggish third quarter for an intense and emotional 111-87 victory Thursday.
MLB: Hill arrives at Red Sox camp following son's death
Red Sox pitcher Rich Hill starts spring training with a heavy heart.
Hill reported to Boston's camp on Thursday following the death of son Brooks, who was less than 2 months old when he died on Feb. 24.
Sports medicine pioneer Frank Jobe dies at 88
Dr. Frank Jobe, a pioneering orthopedic surgeon who was the first to perform an elbow procedure that became known as Tommy John surgery and saved the careers of countless major league pitchers, died Thursday. He was 88.
AP Source: 10-second rule withdrawn by committee
Round one of the pace-of-play debate goes to the proponents of fast football.
The NCAA football rules committee tabled a proposal Wednesday that would have penalized offenses for snapping the ball before 10 seconds had run off the 40-second play clock, The Associated Press has learned.
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