MATTHEW VANTRYON | Asst. Sports Editor
Butler (11-8, 1-6) hit the road last night to take on Providence (14-5, 4-2). Despite a strong start, Butler faded down the stretch. A late comeback fell short, and the Bulldogs fell 65-56.
The key to the game was domination on the glass. Providence outrebounded Butler by 15 and grabbed 13 offensive boards.
Providence’s Kadeem Batts grabbed 17 rebounds, outrebounding the Bulldogs singlehandedly.
Sophomore Kellen Dunham paced the Bulldogs with 17 points. Senior Khyle Marshall added 15 points.
The first half began on a positive note for Butler, as the Bulldogs began the game shooting 3-for-5 from the field. Providence began the game shooting 2-for-10, but stayed in the game by getting offensive rebounds early.
Providence outrebounded Butler 17-13 at the half and grabbed six offensive boards.
Despite starting the half strong offensively, Butler shot 6-for-20 to close out the half. Meanwhile, Providence finished the half shooting 10-for-16.
Dunham kept the Bulldogs in the game with 14 first-half points, including 2-for-4 shooting from beyond the arc.
Providence’s Bryce Cotton, who ranks second in the Big East averaging 20.4 points-per-game, was held to only two points in the first half on 1-for-3 shooting from the floor.
Butler faced as much as a seven-point deficit with two minutes to play in the period, but the Bulldogs were able to finish the half on a 4-0 run to cut the deficit to 29-26 going into halftime.
Providence continued to control the game for most of the second half. Providence extended its lead to as many as eight, but Butler managed to stay in the game by hitting shots when it needed them most.
Cotton, who had been unusually quiet in the opening half, came to life in the final period. He scored 16 points in the second half.
It was a homecoming for Butler freshman forward Andrew Chrabascz, who scored eight points in the contest.
Every time Butler managed to trim the deficit, Providence answered with a bucket of its own.
A three-point basket by Henton gave the Friars a seven-point lead with a little more than six minutes remaining.
Providence cemented its lead as the Friars hit three consecutive 3-point baskets extended Providence’s lead to 59-49.
Providence continued to build its lead as the game wound down, bumping it to 12 with four minutes to play.
Butler cut the deficit to five with 1:31 to play.
However, the Bulldogs were unable to trim it any further, and Butler was forced to send Providence to the free throw line.
The Bulldogs were unable to complete the late comeback, and fell to 2-3 on the road this season.
The Bulldogs shot 46 percent in the game, including 4-for-13 from deep. The Friars also shot 46 percent in the contest, but were more effective from distance, making 5-of-11 3-point shots.
Butler will turn its attention to Saturday afternoon, when the team returns home to face St. John’s at 4 p.m.
St. John’s was predicted to finish fifth in the conference before the season began, but has struggled out of the gate.
At press time, the Red Storm have a record of 9-8, but are winless in their first five conference games. Most recently, they dropped an 84-83 decision to DePaul in double overtime.
St. John’s sophomore forward JaKarr Sampson won Big East Rookie of the Year accolades last season, and is averaging nearly 12 points per game this season.
Junior D’Angelo Harrison is averaging more than 18 points per game, good for fourth most in the conference. The Red Storm are averaging 73.2 points per game this season, ranking sixth in the conference.
Butler will host St. John’s for the first time in the program’s history, and will be playing the Red Storm for only the second time. St. John’s defeated the Bulldogs 76-69 in the NIT tournament during the 1957-1958 season.