Williams scores 20 as Butler beats Cloud County, 90-63
CONCORDIA, KANSAS—Butler forced 20 turnovers and the Grizzlies won their fourth straight game, 90-63, over Cloud County on Monday night.
Freshman Isaiah Williams led Butler with 20 points on 7 of 8 shooting.
“Coach told me I had to step with DJ [DeeJuan Pruitt] out,” Williams said. “I am getting more comfortable playing down low, too.”
With no Pruitt tonight, Butler lacked some rebounding but the limited turnovers, only seven, helped minimize opportunities for Cloud County.
The Grizzlies have appeared to be a defensive team possessed since their poor performance against Seward County on Feb. 11. They’ve plowed through Colby and Barton before tonight’s game. They went all the way to Goodland, Kansas and beat Northwest Tech for the win, setting up the big game tonight.
The win keeps Butler on pace with the rest of the really tough East Division. Coffeyville, the No. 2 team in the nation, remains at the top of the conference, while 16th-ranked Cowley follows suit.
“I don’t really pay attention to any of that stuff,” Fisher said. “However, the Jayhawk East is one of the toughest divisions in the country.”
Butler took their first double digit lead in the middle of a 10-2 run that put Butler up 25-15 with 7:03 remaining in the half.
Noah Thomasson hit a layup with 2:54 remaining to put Butler up by 14 and then he hit another as the time ran out in the first half to put the Grizzlies up 39-24 at the break.
The Grizzlies continued the lockdown defense into the second half as they didn’t allow Cloud County to reach 40 points in the game until after the 10-minute mark. It was the constant pressure and running shooters off the line that helped Butler’s defense dominate.
Shawn Hopkins had to big-time dunks to respond to what could have been momentum-making Buckets for Cloud County. The dunks were demoralizing and helped Butler stop any comeback attempt.
“Shawn [Hopkins] does a great job of bringing us energy,” Williams said.
Cloud County made their last run, cutting the Butler lead down to 64-46 with 8:57 when Savian Edwards, the Kansas Wesleyan transfer, hit a three. Isaiah Williams quickly went down the floor, got fouled and hit his free throws to quiet the run.
“Isaiah may be the most improved player I’ve ever had from Game 1 to now,” Fisher said.
Edwards finished as the leading scorer for the Thunderbirds with 22 points on 7 of 13 shooting.
Butler will turn their attention to the Independence Pirates on Saturday for the Grizzlies third road game in a stretch where Butler is on the road for five of six games.
Last year, Independence handed Butler a 40-point loss on the road. The Grizzlies responded by winning 12 of their next 14, including an 18-point win over Indy at the Power Plant.
“I told the guys in the locker room after the game what happened last year,” Fisher said. “They’re proud to continue the tradition of what last year built and will look to win that game.”