The Butler Bulldogs defeated the Marquette Golden Eagles last night in the first game of the EA Sports Maui Invitational. Butler needed a ridiculous one-handed three-pointer from Rotnei Clarke at the buzzer to steal a 72-71 win. Click here for the highlights, including Clarke’s answered prayer.
After missing the NCAA tournament last season following consecutive national runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2011, Butler looks to rebound this year. The Bulldogs with have to do so in a much tougher conference, though; they have departed the Horizon League and joined the Atlantic 10. This is a plus for local fans of coach Brad Stevens and his crew; Butler will play in Richmond on March 2 against fellow A-10 rookie VCU.
Back to Marquette for a minute: in the loss to Butler, two local players, junior Davante Gardner (Suffolk / King’s Fork) and freshman Jamal Ferguson (Norfolk / Maury) saw action for the Golden Eagles. Ferguson played only a single minute, but Gardner made the most of his 16 minutes off the bench, filling the box score with 12 points, 7 rebounds (5 offensive), and a blocked shot (also, 4 personal fouls). Gardner and Ferguson are doing the 757 proud: Ferguson has appeared in all four games for the 3-1 Eagles, and Gardner is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder despite not starting a single game.
Local fans who want to catch a Marquette game in person are in luck; the Eagles play Georgetown at the Verizon Center in D.C. on February 11. Road trip!