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The Journal Gazette

  • George Washington forward John Kopriva (34) reaches for the ball against Butler forward Roosevelt Jones (21) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Saturday, February 09, 2013 5:06 pm

No. 14 Butler holds off George Washington 59-56


No. 14 Butler nearly blew a 17-point lead Saturday, going the last 7 1/2 minutes without a field goal, before holding on for a 59-56 victory over George Washington.

The Colonials cut the lead to one in the final minute and had several 3-point looks in the final 10 seconds that could have sent the game into overtime. Joe McDonald had the final chance, but he was stripped as he went up for the shot just before time expired.

Rotnei Clark scored 14 points and Roosevelt Jones had 12 for the Bulldogs (20-4, 7-2 Atlantic 10), who broke a two-game road losing streak during their inaugural tour of unfamiliar hostile environments in the school's first season in the Atlantic 10.

Isaiah Armwood had 14 points and 11 rebounds for George Washington (11-11, 5-4), which sold out the Smith Center for the first time since 2006 and was hosting its highest ranked opponent since 2000. The Colonials, who start four true freshmen, shot 28 percent.

Butler led 48-31 with 12 minutes to play, but the Colonials' full-court press and Jones' poor free throw shooting - he entered the game shooting 59.1 percent and went 2 for 9 from the line, all in the second half - helped get GW back into the game. McDonald cut the lead to five when he made 1 of 2 free throws with 1:34 remaining.

After Jones missed two more free throws, Lasan Kromah's tip-in made it 57-54 with 52 seconds to play. McDonald then made a steal in the backcourt and was fouled. He made both free throws, and it was 57-56 with 44 seconds left.

Kellen Dunham made two free throws with 24 seconds to go to restore Butler's three-point lead. With a chance to tie, McDonald missed a 3-pointer, and a held ball was called on the rebound. Possession went to Butler, but Jones was called for traveling along the baseline before throwing the ball inbounds with 9 seconds to go.

Nemanja Mikic missed another 3 for the Colonials, and another held ball gave the ball back to George Washington. McDonald had the ball for one final shot, but it was knocked out of his hands in a crowd as he left his feet. GW shot 1 for 12 from 3-point range for the game.

Butler took the lead for good with a 17-2 run in the first half, holding the Colonials without a field goal for nearly 8 minutes. The run started with 3-pointers from Dunham and Clark, and Kameron Woods highlighted the spurt with a driving two-handed dunk.

Leading 31-22 at halftime, Butler pushed the lead to 17 on consecutive jumpers by Clark, while the Colonials often had trouble getting off a decent shot against the Bulldogs' defense.

But foul trouble hurt Butler late. Erik Fromm got his fifth with 6:48 remaining, and Andrew Smith was gone with 4:52 to go. Shortly afterward, the Colonials cut the deficit to single digits for the first time in the second half, with Kromah's layup making it 55-46 with 4:21 left.

George Washington hasn't beaten a ranked team at home since 1998. Saturday's game was homecoming, and it celebrated the 20th anniversary of the 1993 team that made the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament.

One of the officials, Joe DeMayo, left the game late in the first half with a right Achilles injury. The teams finished the half with two officials, and a substitute joined the crew for the second half.


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