Story by Wyatt Ebersole
The Butler Men's Basketball team improved to 6-0 on the young season with a pair of big victories in Oklahoma this past weekend playing in the Tonkawa Classic. The 6-0 start is the best for the Grizzlies since the 2014-15 season where they started 22-0 and went on to finish the year 34-3 and received an at-large bid to the National Tournament.
On Friday, the Grizzlies played the Northern Oklahoma College Enid Jets in Tonkawa, Oklahoma in the first game of the Tonkawa Classic. The Grizzlies and Jets spent much of the first half going back and forth until the 4-minute mark when the Grizzlies combined some defensive stops with some offensive production going on a 14-3 run to end the half taking a 46-35 lead into the halftime locker room. The Grizzlies came back out again playing great defense and eventually had their lead balloon to as much as 22, but the Jets wouldn't quit. They worked their deficit back down to 10 before the Grizzlies got a couple of stops and won 84-72.
On Saturday, the Grizzlies played the Northern Oklahoma College Tonkawa Mavericks in their final match of the Tonkawa Classic. The first half was another back-and-forth battle with the Mavs matching every basket the Grizzlies scored and the Tonkawa went into the break with the lead, the first time the Grizzlies have trailed at halftime this season. Butler would come back out a stronger and they held the lead for the first 10 minutes of the second half, but the Mavericks went on a 12-1 run to take the lead back at 66-59 and the momentum in the game. The Grizzlies called timeout and then came back out with an immediate response, going on an 8-0 run capped off by a big Rob Brown three to take the lead back at 67-66 with 5 minutes to play. The Mavericks would not be turned away however, and they seemed to be in control as they were up 76-71 with under 2 minutes to play, but the Grizzlies roared back, making two free throws, getting a stop, and then hitting another three to tie the game up at 76 with 50 seconds to play. The Grizzlies got another stop and then Treylon Payne got fouled and went to the line with a chance to give the Grizzlies the lead with 7 seconds left. Payne missed the first free throw and Tonkawa called timeout to try and "ice" Payne. Payne calmly sinked the second free-throw and the Mavericks quickly came racing up the court trying to get a game-winning basket. The Mavs final shot was an open, catch-and-shoot elbow three-pointer, but it was an airball and the Grizzlies walked away with a 77-76 victory.
The Grizzlies now look ahead to conference play on Wednesday where they will face off with the new look Colby Trojans under new head coach Jerrod Stanford at 7:30 PM in the Power Plant.