Butler’s stay in New York a short one as Dawgs lose to Providence
NEW YORK (AP) — Ben Bentil scored 38 points with an impressive array of power moves and long jumpers, leading Providence to a 74-60 victory over Butler in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals Thursday.
Kris Dunn added 15 points and seven assists for the fourth-seeded Friars (23-9), who led for nearly 37 minutes and pulled away in the second half. They advanced to the semifinals Friday night against third-ranked and top-seeded Villanova, an 81-67 winner over Georgetown in Thursday’s first game at Madison Square Garden.
Bentil’s dazzling performance matched the second-highest scoring output in tournament history. Donyell Marshall had 42 points for Connecticut against St. John’s in 1994.
Kellen Dunham scored 17 to pace No. 5 seed Butler (21-10), winless in three Big East Tournament games since joining the league. He was 5 for 6 from 3-point range, and Kelan Martin added 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Bentil pulled down eight boards in a game between teams with similar NCAA resumes. Both seem to have sufficient at-large credentials, but Providence will certainly feel more comfortable on Selection Sunday after winning this March matchup to complete a sweep of the three-game season series.
Butler could be sweating out a spot this weekend, though the Bulldogs lost for only the third time in their last 10 games.
Bentil led the league in scoring with a 21.2 average but was beaten out by back-to-back winner Dunn for Big East player of the year. In this one, the muscular, 6-foot-9 sophomore forward with a surprising outside shooting touch was the star of the show.
Bentil went 16 of 24 from the field, including 5 of 9 on 3s, and scored only one point at the free throw line. He grimaced and limped to the bench during a timeout with 2:26 left but remained in the game.
Martin scored the first five points of the second half, giving Butler its first lead and completing a 15-0 surge. But the Friars responded immediately and took the lead for good on a 3 by Bentil with 15:32 remaining. He scored 13 points in 5-plus minutes as Providence regained control at 56-45. The Friars extended the advantage to as many as 19 with 3:13 left.