Bulldogs fall in Maui Invitational final

A season-high 27 points from senior guard Rotnei Clarke was not enough to secure the Maui Invitational championship for the Butler men’s basketball team.

Senior guard Brandon Paul tallied 20 points for Illinois, and the Fighting Illini (6-0) scored a 78-61 victory in the final game of the invite.

The victory gave Illinois its first Maui Invitational championship in school history. The game between the schools was the first in 41 years.

Illinois used a hot start to grab a 13-5 lead before the first television timeout.

The Fighting Illini had a consistent night shooting despite being held to their lowest point total of the tournament. The squad hit 48 percent of its shots from the field, including 10 of 25 3-point attempts.

Butler settled down toward the end of the first half and trailed 39-28 heading into the locker room.

The Bulldogs (3-2) carried a stifling defense from the final minutes of the first half into the second half and began to chip away at their deficit.

Clarke hit a 3-point basket and followed with a layup to pull Butler within six with about 16:30 remaining in the contest.

Illinois turned the tide with 11:22 left, going on a 10-0 run in a 3-minute span. Senior forward Tyler Griffey hit back-to-back 3’s during the stretch to key the Fighting Illini attack.

Butler was never able to get closer than down nine following the run, with Clarke taking most of the shots down the stretch.

Freshman guard Kellen Dunham had a difficult night shooting, as he was unable to hit a field goal until the 2-minute mark of the second half.

The Fighting Illini had four players in double figures. In addition to Paul’s 20 points, sophomore guard Tracy Abrams tallied 17 points on 5 of 9 shooting.

Senior guard D.J. Richardson scored 14 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds. Griffey also had 14 points and hit four of his five 3-point attempts.

Clarke scored 18 of his 27 points from 3-point range and went 10 of 19 shooting overall. Junior forward Khyle Marshall contributed eight points and four rebounds, and sophomore forward Kameron Woods recorded a team-high eight rebounds.

The Bulldogs settled for a second-place finish in Maui and will now have a short break before their next game. The team will face Hanover at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Nov. 27.

BY THE NUMBERS

Butler

Rotnei Clarke: 27 points, 10-19 FG shooting, 6-13 3-pt shooting, 4 rebounds

Khyle Marshall: 8 points, 4 rebounds

Kameron Woods: 8 rebounds

Roosevelt Jones: 7 points, 4 rebounds

TEAM: 36.1 percent FG shooting, 7-28 3-pt shooting, 10-17 FT shooting, 37 rebounds (ILL: 31), 10 turnovers (ILL: eight)

Illinois

Brandon Paul: 20 points, 4 assists, 6-6 FT shooting

Tracy Abrams: 17 points, 5-9 FG shooting

D.J. Richardson: 14 points, 5-11 shooting, 9 rebounds

Tyler Griffey: 14 points, 4-5 3-pt shooting

TEAM: 48 percent FG shooting, 40 percent 3-pt shooting, 95.2 percent FT shooting

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