EL DORADO – The 25th-ranked Butler Grizzlies survived a scare from the Pratt Beavers but a 13-2 run gave Butler the hard fought 52-47 win on Wednesday night at the Power Plant.
Sophomore RaVon Nero score seven of the 13 points during the run that spanned the third and fourth quarters. Nero finished with 16 points, including nine in the first half.
“Helmer told me to stop forcing things,” Nero said. “I slowed things down and the team followed along.”
“When she’s locked in she’s really good,” Butler head coach Mike Helmer said.
The Grizzlies are now 12-5 on the year and 5-2 in the Jayhawk Conference.
“We needed to learn to win a game with some toughness,” Helmer said.
Pratt’s Dymond McElrath hit the game’s first bucket and Butler would answer with an 11-1 run that spanned almost eight minutes.
After Butler took an 16-8 lead before Pratt found their legs. The Beavers went on a 14-1 run over their own to take a 22-17 lead with 4:14 remaining in the game.
Pratt attempted their three-point onslaught despite the lack of results. What they were doing were able to get the offensive rebounds and make the Grizzlies pay. The Beavers had six offensive rebounds that led to five points in the second quarter.
Butler finally found their first field goal with 2:14 left in the first half. It ended a field goal-less streak that spanned 8:23.
Jaelynn McLaurian awoke a Grizzlies team that needed it. Her bucket ended the drought and her three-pointer gave them the 24-21 lead with 2:00 left in the half.
Jazmin George drained a three-pointer, followed by Rachel Tippins with one of her own gave the Beavers a 30-26 lead at halftime.
Butler used a 13-2 run in the third quarter that bled into the fourth quarter to give Butler a 45-38 lead with 8:02 to go in the game when Carissa Beck made a layup. Nero had seven of the 13 during the run.
“RaVon was trying too hard in the first half,” Helmer said. “Playing for me, you take the good and the bad. She got a big time butt chewing in the first half and a ‘great I love you’ in the second half.”
Pratt would answer back with back-to-back buckets to bring the Beavers within two. Gross would stop the building run by getting to the rim and increasing the lead to 47-43 with 4:29 remaining.
Janell Douvier made two free throws with 2:03 remaining to cut the Butler lead to 49-45 with 44.4 seconds remaining.
Gross had nine points. Camille Downs had six points and eight rebounds for Butler.
For the Beavers, it was Jordan Mathis Leading the way with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting and six rebounds.
Pratt falls to 10-5 on the season and are 4-2 in conference play.
“It was actually fun,” Nero said. “We stayed composed and Helmer pulled it out for us.”
Butler will travel to Garden City on Saturday for a cross-divisional game with the Garden City Broncbusters. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. They’ll get Cloud County in Concordia on Monday night. That tips off at 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 15.
Garden City’s head coach Omega Tandy was replaced by former men’s assistant Mike Harding on Dec. 20 when Tandy resigned.
“I know what they were doing two months ago,” Helmer said. “I don’t know what they’re doing now with their new coach.”