No. 9 Butler rolls in win over Cowley

Ethan Denton

EL DORADO, Kansas—It’s not secret the Butler women’s basketball team is talented and blessed with tremendous depth. A luxury like that can help a team win games in a multitude of ways. 

Two nights earlier, Butler turned to defense in a 49-point win over Allen County. On Monday night against a solid Cowley Tiger team, the Grizzlies lit the nets on fire by shooting 58% from the field in a 99-72 win at the Power Plant. The win improved the ninth ranked Grizzlies’ record to 19-1 and 18-1 in the KJCCC.

“We were good offensively tonight,” Butler head coach Mike Helmer said. “We had great moments of defense, but there are a few things we have to correct on the defensive end. But I’m super proud of them because Cowley’s a great team.”

The Grizzlies turned up the pressure in the first quarter and had Cowley out of sorts for the whole period. Butler led only 2-0 after three minutes, but thanks to their defense forcing 11 turnovers, were able to get out in transition and score before the Tigers were able to set up a packed in zone defense.

Butler stretched the lead to 20 at one point at 24-4. They led by 15 at end of the first quarter. 

Cowley was able to get within 13 early in the second, but by then Butler had figured out how to work against the zone. Tamara Nard hit a pair of mid-range jumpers, Kaylee Nero and Paris Mullens went to work in the post and Carissa Beck burned the nets with four second quarter three-pointers.

“We have a good shooting team, it’s just we’ve gone five, six games where we haven’t shot well,” Helmer said. “It’s been the grind of the season and being mentally tough enough to get excited about the end stretch here. If we shoot like that, we’ll be tough to beat.”

The offensive success was important as Cowley turned things around on the offensive end in the second period, avoiding turnovers and getting some easier baskets with transition and back door cuts against the aggressive Grizzly perimeter defense.

The teams combined for 52 points in the second stanza and Butler went into the break with a 52-33 lead.

The Grizzlies kept their foot on the pedal offensively with a quick 6-0 run to start the third quarter. Cowley sped up the game with a full-court press. At times it gave Butler some problems, but more often than not the Grizzlies were able to get the ball to the basket for easy scoring opportunities.

Butler led 76-55 after three quarters and established their biggest lead of 31 on a basket from Riley Hett with 3:39 to play.

Point guard Skyla Knight was terrific once again, leading all scorers with 21 points. Joining her in double figures was Mullins and Nard with 15 each, Beck finished with 14 and Mekayla Furman and Kaylee Nero each had 10.

The Grizzlies will conclude the regular season on Wednesday with a road trip to Coffeyville. The Red Ravens handed Butler its only loss of the season (69-61) back on March 13.