Butler wins thriller over nationally-ranked Northern Oklahoma

Butler wins thriller over nationally-ranked Northern Oklahoma

The Butler men survived a game of wild momentum swings to hold off No. 22-ranked Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa by a 62-61 score on Saturday at the Power Plant.

It is Butler's first win over a ranked opponent since the Grizzlies won at No. 12 Hutchinson by the same 62-61 score last season at the Sports Arena.

Both teams would face big leads and big deficits throughout the night. The Grizzlies were the first team to build a big lead on the night, using an 8-0 run late in the first half to lead 28-21 after back-to-back layups by Ja'ln Williams with 2:43 to play in the period.

Northern Oklahoma would storm back to get within one point before Sean Goodwin's layup with six seconds left gave Butler a 30-27 lead at halftime.

In the second half, Eric Watson would hit consecutive 3-pointers to give Butler a 38-32 lead with 15:17 to play, seemingly putting the Grizzlies in control. Northern, however, answered with a 13-0 run as the Grizzlies went scoreless for nearly five minutes.

Butler went from being down seven to being ahead nine as part of a 19-3 run. When Sean Osler made a layup with 6:51 to go, Butler had its biggest lead of the game at 57-48.

True to form, Northern Oklahoma would go on a 9-0 run to tie the game yet again. Butler put a stop to that rally with a 3-pointer by Sean Osler with 3:22 to play and Butler led 60-57. The Grizzlies would not relinquish that lead, but Northern Oklahoma's John Cooksey would make a layup and add a free throw after getting fouled to make it 62-61. 

The Mavericks would get the ball back after Butler missed a layup in the closing seconds. With 5.8 seconds to play, Northern Oklahoma got up two shots, but both hit the rim and time expired, allowing the Grizzlies to get the narrow victory.

Butler was led for the first time this season by Sean Goodwin, who had a game-high 12 points. Sean Osler added 11 points and eight rebounds for the Grizzlies, while Eric Watson had nine points and Shomari Triggs and Trent Richardson had eight points apiece. Colin Voss and Tilford Thornton, who took the final shot, each had 10 points to pace Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa.

The Grizzlies are now 12-2 on the season, their best 14-game start under head coach Mike Bargen. The Grizzlies previous best had been 11-3 in both 2008-09 and 2009-10. Northern Oklahoma, which had broken into the national rankings this week, is also now 12-2 on the season.

Butler will now have a long holiday break, with the next game not coming until Jan. 5 at Garden City, which marks the start of Jayhawk West Conference play.