The Butler women were able to hold on in the end for a 65-62 home win over Independence on Saturday at the Power Plant.
Butler, which led by 13 points in the second half, gave up the lead late, twice trailing by a point.
The Grizzlies regained the lead for good on a bucket in the paint by Criste'On Waters with 28 seconds left that made it 63-62. Butler was able to keep Independence scoreless for the remainder of the game and Kyla Callins and Jalise Smallwood each hit one of two free throws in the closing seconds for the final margin.
It looked like Butler would have no need for late game dramatics. The Grizzlies scored the first nine points of the game, with four from Camille Downs.
The Grizzlies pushed the lead to 10 on a play where Waters came up with a steal in the paint on one end and finished with an athletic finger-roll layup on the other end. That put Butler up 15-5 with 3:20 left in the first quarter.
Butler led 20-11 after the first quarter, and went up 30-16 after five straight points by Downs in the second quarter. The Grizzlies led 37-27 at the half.
In the second half, Butler led 47-33 after a layup by Awreona Ransom with 6:27 left in the third quarter. Independence answered with an 11-0 run, cutting Butler's lead to just three before Jalise Smallwood drained a 3-pointer with 3:08 left in the third.
The Grizzlies regained some measure of control, scoring the final eight points of the third quarter and led 55-44 going to the fourth.
Butler was up 57-50 before Independence surged again. The Pirates outscored Butler 10-2 to take their first lead with 3:13 remaining. Butler scored to go back in front, but Independence got one more bucket with 42 seconds left before the Grizzlies scored the final four points.
Jalise Smallwood led Butler with 19 points. It is her second-highest output of the season, only behind 22 points against Bethany JV on Nov. 17. Kyla Callins and Camille Downs had 11 apiece for the Grizzlies. Criste'On Waters led Butler with nine rebounds.
Butler is now 18-2 overall and improves to 9-2 in Jayhawk Conference play, sitting atop the East division. Independence is 8-9 and 3-7 in conference play. The Grizzlies will be on the road on Wednesday at Neosho County.