Story by Wyatt Ebersole
It took all 40 minutes of action to decide the game, but the Butler Lady Grizzlies pulled out a tough 63-62 win out in Liberal, Kansas against the Seward County Saints. The win keeps the Grizzlies undefeated as they improve to 6-0 on the year and 2-0 in Jayhawk Conference play. The win drops Seward to 1-3 on the year and the Grizzlies have now beat Seward in three of their last four matchups.
The Grizzlies came out of the gates firing as they ran out to a quick 15-4 lead on the Saints early in the contest with five points each from Jaila Harding and Randi Harding. Seward quickly responded, knocking down three three-pointers and a layup to make the game 17-15 early, but the Grizzlies held Seward scoreless in the final 3:45 of the first quarter and held a 22-15 lead after the first 10 minutes.
Seward came out of the huddle with some defensive ferocity as they forced turnover after turnover, but they couldn't get it done on the offensive end consistently having several turnovers of their own. Regardless, Seward outscored the Grizzlies 13-2 in the second quarter and the Saints held a 28-24 advantage heading into the locker room.
The Grizzlies came out of the locker room ready to play as they were able to find good early looks down low that gave them some offensive consistency. The Grizzlies got a big basket at the 3:18 mark of the quarter when Syncere Harrod had a big and-1 put-back layup. Syn made the and-1 free throw giving the Grizzlies a 37-36 lead. Seward responded a pair of threes shortly after and the teams would trade some free throws down the stretch and the Saints held 44-41 lead over the Lady Grizzlies heading into the final quarter.
Jaila Harding swung the momentum back the Grizzlies way when she got a tough and-1 layup to fall in to tie the game up at 44 early in the fourth. After missing a couple of threes and allowing a Seward basket, Syncere Harrod came up big again for the Grizzlies as she splashed in her first three-pointer of the season to give the Grizzlies the lead back. The Grizzlies got their biggest lead of the afternoon at the 4:18 mark of the fourth when Syncere laid one in to give Butler a 7-point lead, but Seward wasn't going to roll over. The Saints would tie the game at 59 all 90 seconds later after a Halima Sallat three and it was time to settle in for a two-minute battle. The Grizzlies gave themselves a 63-60 lead and got a pair of stops on D to give themselves the ball with 23 seconds left. Seward then proceeded to get a steal which they turned in to two free throws to make the game 63-62 Grizzlies with six seconds left. Seward fouled Randi who went to the line and missed both chances, but Freddie Wallace grabbed a huge offensive rebound and got fouled herself with 4.9 seconds left. Freddie also went 0-2 at the line giving Seward the ball back with two seconds left down by one. Seward got to inbound the ball from half court after a timeout and they attempted to inbound the ball in across the court to try a last second three. The inbound pass was batted away from the Grizzly basket by a sprinting Syncere Harrod, who was huge for the Grizzlies all game, and the Grizzlies escaped from Liberal with the win.
The Grizzlies struggled offensively, shooting 36% from the field with a very troublesome 43% free-throw percentage. The Grizzlies also had 28 turnovers in the game, which is by far their most this season, but the Grizzlies gritted this game out by rebounding and playing great defense in key moments.
NOTES: Butler is 7-12 against Seward since 2011, but have won 4 of the last 6 matchups…28 turnovers is the most turnovers in a game by the Grizzlies since the Spring 2021 season when they had 29 against Neosho…The Butler Women start the year 6-0 for the third straight season…This is the first win by any Butler sports team in the Greenhouse since the Butler Volleyball team beat Seward on October 28th, 2021