INDIANAPOLIS It wasn't even two minutes in when Butler's Rotnei Clarke air balled a three-pointer, Andrew Clarke snagged the offensive rebound and gave it back to Clarke -- who missed from distance again -- only to have Roosevelt Jones grab another offensive board and finally put it back for a deuce on his team's third try.
It was a sign of things to come on the night for Clarke, Jones and Penn on the glass.
Within the friendly confines of the historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, where they hadn't lost all season, the No. 17 Bulldogs outrebounded the Quakers 36-21, outscored them on second-chance points 18-4 and beat them in the paint to the tune of a 36-16 advantage.
All of it led to a 70-57 win and Butler's eighth consecutive victory overall (see Instant Replay). For Penn (2-10), the loss was its fifth straight and 10th in its last 11 games.
"It's like a broken record with a needle scratch -- I told these guys I want us to lose a game because a team is just more talented than us, or just flat-out superior," Penn coach Jerome Allen said. "But we keep losing because we don't rebound, we don't value the ball. It's not -- I refuse to believe -- it's a tall task."
In the first half alone, Butler (11-2) pulled in 11 offensive rebounds while the Quakers couldn't grab a single one. And on second-chance points in that first frame, the Bulldogs clobbered Penn, 18-0.
Only because the Quakers shot a deadly 52.2 percent from the field and hit five three-pointers at a 71.4 percent rate were they still hanging on at the half, down just 35-29.
Following intermission, the red and blue managed to limit the Bulldogs' ability to push them around under the basket, as Butler outrebounded them by a slimmer margin of 16-13. But Penn's shooting also cooled to 35.7 percent.
"It's obviously been a problem the whole year, I don't think it's a strategical effort," Penn junior Miles Cartwright said. "That's all offensive rebounding is about. It's just teams are obviously seeing that they can beat us on the boards, but we just gotta have more pride and battle more early and make sure we don't get in such an early rebounding deficit."
The Quakers did hold Clarke, who couldn't buy a basket Wednesday night, to a season-low six points.
The 6-foot senior guard and Arkansas transfer entered the game as Butler's leading scorer, averaging 18.1 points per contest, but converted on just 2 of 11 shots. From distance, he was just 1 for 9.
According to Allen though, Penn didn't execute any special game plan to stifle Clarke.
"We played the way we play whether we're playing at Butler, whether we're playing at Kentucky, whether we're playing in the Palestra," Allen said. "It doesn't really make a difference who we're playing against.
"We're going to play pressure defense and halfcourt and get up in guys, hedge ball screens, and I thought their motion offense really didn't hurt us. Their pick-and-roll, misdirections didn't hurt us. They missed shots and they went and got them."
One Bulldog who didn't miss shots was Jones, the game's clear difference maker. On 10-for-15 shooting, the 6-foot-4 junior forward dropped a career-high 24 points on Allen's men and added six rebounds and three assists.
"One thing he does well is he stays within himself," Allen said. "I don't think he took one jump shot.
"He just tried to close out short and make you shoot over the top of us, and it wasn't necessarily the person guarding him, but we defend with five guys in action. So you can't put that on one player per se, just say he did a good job of being physical and picking his spots and doing what he was capable of doing."
Jones even put the final dagger into Penn's hopes with 5:50 remaining in regulation when he came up with a swipe, went end-to-end and dropped an easy layup into the bucket to give the Bulldogs their first double-digit advantage of the evening.
Yet, it was all moot at that point for Allen, who expressed frustration in his team's effort after the game. The Quakers were without Fran Dougherty -- their leading scorer and rebounder -- who missed a second straight game with mononucleosis, but that wasn't an excuse for the Penn coach.
"Fran's not a tall player in terms of our roster. I think he may be the third-tallest, and it's not just his absence," Allen stressed. "I think it's a team sport. Other guys had an opportunity to step up and contribute, and for the most part we got it in spurts. We didn't get it consistently over the course of 40 minutes.
"I just think rebounding the basketball on the defensive end is a function of will. I think there are a number of players who have played this game I can document that it's not always about size.
"... It's just being tough and wanting to be physical and wanting to have a sense of urgency about yourself that you just won't surrender, and that's something that we don't have yet."
E-mail Mike Wisniewski at email@example.com