EL DORADO – The Butler men dropped its fourth straight conference game Saturday with a 72-70 home loss to Independence.
Butler (4-5 overall, 1-5 conference) trailed by as many as 13 points to the Pirates in the second half before a late rally came up short.
Independence led 60-47 midway through the second half before a 13-2 Grizzly run narrowed the margin to two. Justin Criddle‘s three-pointer with 3:54 remaining cut the Pirates’ lead to 62-60.
A quick 6-0 Pirate run pushed the lead back to eight, but Butler answered with consecutive baskets by Ketarrious Bouchum and Russell Smith. With just 58 seconds left, Tevin Berrywould drain a three-pointer to get the Grizzlies within one, 68-67.
Butler failed to get a defensive stop, while Independence made 4-of-4 foul shots in the closing seconds before Criddle hit a trey at the buzzer for the final margin.
The Grizzlies trailed most of the first half, but did take a 28-27 lead with 4:30 before the break on a pair of Bouchum free throws. However, Independence closed the half on a 14-4 run and led Butler 41-32 at the break.
Butler surged at the start of the second half, getting within three after a Ketarrious Bouchum dunk made it 47-44 with 13:54 to play. The Pirates would then respond with a 13-3 run to build their largest lead of the contest.
Bouchum led Butler with 24 points while Criddle scored 14 off the bench. Russell Smith just missed a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds. Independence’s DeAnthony McCallum finished with 29 points, including a perfect 11-of-11 from the free throw line, to lead all scorers.
Butler will attempt to snap a four-game losing streak on Saturday at Dodge City. Tipoff is at 3:00 p.m.