EL DORADO — Four players scored in double figures and Butler survived a scare from volume shooting Barton on Saturday at the Power Plant. The Grizzlies led by double digits at multiple occasions and held on for the 79-71 win.
Butler is now 11-5 on the year and are 4-2 in conference. They lead the KJCCC East division by a game over half game over Cowley and Independence.
"Having that many days off for a break, you are always worried about how you will come out in the first game back," Butler head coach Mike Helmer. "I am proud of how we hung in there and got it done today."
Tamar Nard led Butler with 17 points and six rebounds.
The Grizzlies faced a team that had a hot hand in Richelle Turney. She led all scoring in the first half with 13 points. She was 3-of-6 from three in the first half.
Butler’s ability to grab rebounds and put themselves right at the rim gave them the advantage. Butler had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half. 12 second chance helped the Grizzlies maintain a lead.
The Grizzlies never trailed but as Turney hit key threes the game was just a streaking half. Butler had multiple runs of seven or more.
Vanessa Oduah and Turney hit threes to even the half at 22-all. The Grizzlies responded with a Zayda Perez responded with Butler’s first three to put Butler back on top.
Grizzlies went on a 7-0 run before Barton would respond. Camille Downs capped off a 7-0. She skied through the air to pull down the rebound. Hit the spin move on the pivot, turned right and got the and-one call.
Zayda Perez, was all over the court in the first half, nine points and was a large reason why Butler always had an answer for whatever Barton threw at them. The nine points is a new career high for the freshman. She finished with 12 points.
"My coaches have been telling me to be more confident," Perez aid. "They know I am a good shooter."
RaVon Nero had a bucket and a steal with the layup to end the first half as Butler leads 37-30.
Butler took a double digit early in the second half but Barton fought back, bringing within 48-45 with 4:27 to go in the third quarter. The three-point shooting kept the Cougars in it. Butler’s inability to hit threes, they were 4-of-17 for the game, kept the Cougars in the game.
Butler finally started pulling away when Camille downs drained a rare Butler three to end the third quarter, giving Butler an 8-point advantage. Jaelynn McLaurian found a layup underneath the rim and Jelesa Gross made another layup and Butler’s lead was back at 10 with 8:31 to go in the game.
Layups and free throws were the story over the final quarter as they attacked the rim. Hit easy buckets and created open lanes to the basket on nice off-ball movement.
Barton made that final push with a three from Vanessa Oduah, cutting Butler’s lead to 78-71 with 1:08 remaining.
It's the third time this season Butler has allowed 70 or more points. They are 2-1 in those game with losses to Hutchinson and Seward County.
"We haven't been able to tighten up the screws on the defensive side of the ball yet," said Helmer, "We need to be better at that but we did make some plays and were able to convert on those defensive plays."
Nero finished with 16 points and McClaurian also had 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting for the Grizzlies.
"We thought we had some match up situations we thought we could hurt them with," Helmer said.
Butler will host Pratt on Wednesday here at the Power Plant. That tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
"Pratt is the most improved team in the league," Helmer said. "It's going to be a dog fight."