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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, February 16, 2013 6:46 pm

Clarke has 22, No. 11 Butler tops Fordham 68-63

By JIM O'CONNELLAP Basketball Writer

Rotnei Clarke scored 22 points and No. 11 Butler beat Fordham 68-63 on Saturday, the Rams' sixth straight loss and ninth in the last 10 games.

Clarke was the key figure for the Bulldogs (21-5, 8-3 Atlantic 10) late in the game when Fordham (6-20, 2-9) was able to close to 65-63 with 18 seconds to play.

The Bulldogs closed it out by making four of six free throws the rest of the way to improve to 36-10 after a loss under coach Brad Stevens. Butler lost to Charlotte 71-67 on Wednesday.

The game marked the return of Andrew Smith, Butler's starting center who missed the home loss to Charlotte because of an abdominal injury. He had 12 points and made all six of his free throws, including four in the final 1:54.

Chris Gaston had 21 points for Fordham in his first game back after missing seven with a knee injury. The Bulldogs did a good job on Gaston late, holding him scoreless for the final 5 minutes.

Mandell Thomas had 12 points, including two 3-pointers in the final minute, for the Rams. He was coming off a career-high 23 points against Xavier.

Kameron Woods had seven points and 10 rebounds for the Bulldogs, while Ryan Rhoomes had eight points and eight rebounds for the Rams.

Fordham opened the second half on a 9-0 run to take a 35-30 lead.

The Bulldogs went on a 16-2 run right after that to go up 46-37 with 12:57 to play.

Butler finished 22 of 34 (64.7 percent) from the free throw line while the Rams were 11 of 15 (73.3 percent)

This was only the second meeting between the schools. Butler beat the Rams 90-78 in the first round of the 1959 NIT.