No. 25 Butler tops No. 11 Hutchinson
EL DORADO—A battle between two of the best teams lived up to expectations on Wednesday night in El Dorado.
The Grizzlies used an 8-0 run that spanned almost three minutes as Butler overcame a six-point deficit to beat No. 11 Hutchinson, 56-50.
"It was an ugly game but gosh darn it our kids fought," Butler Head Coach Mike Helmer said. "I love the way they came back after a bad third quarter and we took care of business."
Butler would go on a 14-1 run that spanned almost nine minutes as their defense forced seven turnovers during the run. It was Knight who keys the Grizzlies. She had eight of the 14 and it flipped a game where Butler was down by five and put the Grizzlies up 20-12 with 4:11 remaining.
It wouldn't be until Lojong Gore scored and popped the and-one would the scoring drought end for Butler. The Grizzlies held Hutchinson 0 of 11 during the run.
Kaylee Nero would hit a corner three at the end of the half, to give Butler a 27-19 lead.
The Blue Dragons didn't give in as they used 15-4 run to take a 34-31 lead with 3:22 remaining in the third. They forced Butler into four turnovers while draining the three. Hutch hit four threes in the third quarter, two by Tor'e Alford.
The Blue Dragons took their largest lead when Gore scored a layup to put them up 44-36 with 1:20 remaining in the third quarter.
Butler (4-0) then flipped on a switch, charging back to take the lead. This time it was Paris Mullins showing why she was an All-Conference selection at Walters State last year. She scored a lay up and hit a long jumper to book end an 8-0 run that saw Butler take a 47-44 lead with 6:40 remaining.
Downs drew a charge late in the game and despite the offensive absence from Tamara Nard, her finger prints were all over the defensive side, causing deflections and making it tough to get inside for Hutch.
"We try to pride ourselves on playing great D," Helmer said. "We talked about locking in, flying around and taking care of business."
Hutch (3-1) took a brief 48-47 lead but Carissa Beck made a free throw to give Butler the lead for good with 5:27 remaining.
Beck followed it up with a three with 1:25 remaining to send the dagger home for Butler.
"We have to get her more touches," Helmer said. "I think she's the best shooter in the conference."
Knight led Butler with 20 points on 6 of 14 shooting, including going 6 of 9 at the free throw line.
Butler's defense forced 23 turnovers and held Hutch to only 29.4 percent shooting on the evening.
It's Butler's first win over Hutchinson at home since January 2011, ending a 7-game losing streak at the Power Plant to Hutch. Butler won that game 55-51.
The Grizzlies head to Pratt on Saturday to play the Beavers in another Jayhawk showdown. The Beavers are 1-2 on the year after falling 87-84 in overtime to Neosho County on Wednesday night.