GARDEN CITY, Kan. — The Butler men had a second-half comeback fall short in a 69-65 loss at Garden City on Wednesday.
Butler (8-9 overall, 5-9 conference) trailed by as many as 16 points early in the second half before pulling within three on a Karlon McSpadden trey with 32 seconds remaining.
After Garden’s Elvis Harvey missed two foul shots, Butler had an opportunity to tie the game. However, Ketarrious Bouchum‘s three-point attempt from the far corner did not fall.
Garden’s Jeff Otchere then made 1-of-2 free throws with 5.3 seconds left to seal the victory for the Busters.
Butler held a brief three-point lead in the first half behind a 11-2 run. Trailing 12-6, Jared Armstrong started the Grizzly run with a three-pointer. Bouchum added a layup, then after Anthony Bratton hit two foul shots, added a jumper with 12:21 left in the half to give the Grizzlies their first lead. Bratton followed with a field goal to push the lead to 17-14.
The Grizzly offense would hit a cold streak, making just one field goal over the next seven minutes. Garden City took advantage with a 14-3 run for a 28-20 lead.
Garden (13-5, 9-5) took a 38-28 lead into halftime, then extended its lead to 16 on a Harvey dunk just three minutes into the half.
Butler chipped away at the lead, getting within seven at 53-46 when Russell Smith was fouled after making a spinning bank shot just outside the lane with 9:49 left.
Moments later, Smith added a three-pointer, then Jared Armstrong scored on a layup to cut the deficit to four at 55-51 with 8:40 to play.
Garden would get the lead back to eight, but Butler responded back. Anthony Bratton‘s tip-in with under three minutes remaining sliced the Buster’s lead to 66-62.
Neither team could score over the next two minutes until Garden’s Jamir Thomas muscled past two defenders for a basket, then McSpadden answered on the other end with a trey with 32 seconds left.
Russell Smith had his third double-double of the season as he led the Grizzlies with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Bouchum finished with 14 points, while Bratton added 13.
With the loss, Butler had a three-game conference road winning streak snapped. The Grizzlies return home for a 7:30 p.m. contest Saturday against Seward County (11-7, 7-7). Butler won the first meeting against the Saints with an 81-67 victory in Liberal back on Nov. 15.