Grizzlies Tame Dragons by Double Digits on the Road

Photo Credit: Gunner Daugherty
Photo Credit: Gunner Daugherty

HUTCHINSON, Kan. – For a second consecutive season, the Butler Grizzlies earned a tough road win in the Hutchinson Sports Arena over the Hutchinson Blue Dragons, this time 85-74 on Saturday afternoon.

No. 22 Butler (20-5, 15-4 KJCCC) picked up its 20th win of the season and earned some payback after the Blue Dragons (21-4, 16-3) clipped the Grizzlies 63-60 at the Power Plant earlier this season on Jan. 3rd. The Grizzlies snapped the Blue Dragon's seven-game win streak with the win.

Butler is in fourth place in the league, now one game back from Hutchinson.

For a second straight game, Butler's Jaquez Thornton led the Grizzlies in scoring as he poured in a game-high 22 points to go with five rebounds three assists and three steals. He shot 9-10 from the charity stripe.

Charles McClennahan Jr. added 17 points and eight rebounds while Kaleb Washington rounded out the Grizzlies scoring in double figures with 16 points to go with six rebounds, four steals and three assists. Deuce Drake added eight points, six rebounds and six assists. Jamichael Stillwell returned from injury, putting up seven points and six rebounds in 30 minutes of action.

The first half saw the lead bounce back and forth with the game being tied six times within the first 10 minutes. A 10-0 Butler run that began at the 10:16 mark of the first half and ran to the 5:42 mark saw the Grizzlies build a 29-21 lead, their first distinct lead of the game. They never trailed again in the game.

Butler's largest lead of the game came with 13:29 left in the second half as the Grizzlies took a 17-point lead, 56-39, when McClennahan hit two free throws. Hutchinson cut the lead down to six twice down the stretch, but the Grizzlies always had an answer. Kamryn Thomas made a layup with 1:05 to play, cutting the Butler lead to 80-74. It was the last time Hutch scored as Butler shot 5-8 from the free throw line to close the game out.

Both teams shot similarly from the field with Butler at 45.5% (30-66) and Hutchinson at 42.2% (27-64). The Grizzlies hit a season-low two threes (2-10) but still scored 80+ for. Third straight game and just the eighth time this season.

Butler outrebounded the Dragons 39-35 and forced 15 Hutch turnovers while coughing it up 11 times themselves. The Grizzlies scored 50 points in the paint to Hutch's 40.

The defensive effort was impressive for Kyle Fisher's crew as they held Hutchinson to 15 points below their 89.0 point per game average. It was just the sixth time in conference play that Hutch did not score 80 with one of the others being the home contest at the Power Plant when the Grizzlies held them to 63.

Thomas led the Dragons with 21 points and seven rebounds. John-Paul Ricks had 15 points on 5-10 shooting while Valentino Simon had 14 points and eight rebounds. Kernan Bundy added 10 points and four rebounds off the bench.

Butler continues its season with a home game on Wednesday, hosting the Colby Trojans at 7:30 p.m. at the Power Plant.