NEW YORK — Rotnei Clarke led five players in doubles figures with 14 points in Butler’s 69-58 win over La Salle in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals Friday, and now the Explorers must await their NCAA tournament fate.
Khyle Marshall had 13 points, and Andrew Smith added 11 points and eight rebounds for the fifth-seeded Bulldogs, who face regular-season champ Saint Louis in Saturday’s semifinals.
Clinging to a one-point lead early in the second half, Butler went to work inside. Smith scored in the paint, Marshall had a dunk, and Kameron Woods completed a three-point play after a putback.
The 11-2 run gave the Bulldogs (26-7) a double-digit lead, and they held off fourth-seeded La Salle (21-9) the rest of the way.
Tyreek Duren led the Explorers with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting.
Butler was just 3 for 15 from behind the 3-point arc, but the Bulldogs were 25 for 42 on 2-point attempts. They outscored the Explorers 42-24 in the paint and outrebounded them 41-23.
Clarke missed Butler’s regular-season game at La Salle because of a severely sprained neck. La Salle won that one 54-53 on Jan. 23 on a last-second shot.
Now healthy and ready to make another postseason run, the Bulldogs were too much this time.
The Explorers are left to see how the selection committee evaluates their resume. La Salle beat fellow bubble team Villanova in nonconference play but lost to Central Connecticut State and Bucknell. Along with their win over Butler, the Explorers won at VCU, currently ranked 25th, during the A-10 season.
Jerrell Wright had 14 points and 11 rebounds for La Salle, which hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since 1992.