WICHITA, Kan. – A pair of offensive droughts late in the game were too much for the Butler women to overcome in a 54-52 loss to Hutchinson in a battle of top 10 teams to determine the Region VI championship on Saturday at Koch Arena.
The sixth-ranked Grizzlies led by four points with 12:10 to play in the contest, but would go more than five minutes without a point as No. 3 Hutchinson used an 8-0 run to take a 41-37 lead.
Butler battled back to tie the game 45-45 on a pair of free throws from Te'era Williams with 3:49 to play, but would not score again until a free throw by Shayla Williams with 33.6 seconds to play. By then, Hutchinson had regained its four-point lead and Butler could never again catch up.
The Grizzlies got as close as one point on a deep 3-pointer by Ashlee Ivy with 8.1 seconds to go that made the score 52-51. Hutchinson missed two free throws at the other end but got the offensive rebound and scored to make it 54-51.
Ashley Gibson was fouled with 1.2 seconds to go. She made the first and intentionally missed the second, but the Grizzlies could not rebound. However, a tie-up and a possession arrow to Butler gave the Grizzlies a chance with 0.8 seconds remaining. The inbounds pass went to Ashlee Ivy, who missed a chance to tie the game when her shot was off the mark.
The loss means Butler will have to rely on an at-large bid to reach the NJCAA National Tournament in Salina for the first time. The Grizzlies (32-2) are expected to receive a bid. Those will be announced on Monday.
Butler scored the first four points of the game, but Hutchinson scored the next five and led most of the first half. A three-pointer by Shayla Williams with 2:20 left in the period tied the game 21-21, but the Blue Dragons outscored Butler 4-1 to end the period and took a 25-22 lead into the intermission.
In the second half, Butler got down by six points early, but then went on an 11-2 run, capped by a three-pointer from Shayla Williams that put the Grizzlies up 33-29 with 14 minutes to play.
The Grizzlies still led by four when Te'era Williams made a pair of free throws to make it 37-33 with 12:10 to go. That's when Butler suffered the first of its two long scoreless streaks, setting the stage for the Hutchinson comeback.
Butler was led in scoring by Te'era Williams with 18 points, while Ashlee Ivy had 15 points and Shayla Williams had 11.
Butler's Te'era Williams, Ashley Gibson and Ashlee Ivy were named to the All-Region VI Tournament team.