CONCORDIA, Kan. — Season-low marks in field goal shooting and points scored plagued the Butler women in a 54-43 road loss at Cloud County on Wednesday.
Butler (17-8 overall, 14-8 conference) made just 19 percent (11-of-58) from the field. The loss dropped the Grizzlies into a tie with Cloud for fifth place in the Jayhawk Conference standings with four league games remaining. Three of Butler's four games will come against the bottom three teams (Pratt, Neosho County and Colby).
The Grizzlies only held a lead at the beginning of the contest when Taylor Birch hit a three-pointer to open the scoring. Following Birch's trey, Cloud County (17-8, 14-8) went on an 8-0 run as all points scored by Kelsi Mueller, who led all scorers with 16 points.
Mueller scored 11 of Cloud's 15 points in the opening quarter as she helped the T-Birds to a 15-10 lead.
Cloud led by as many as 10 points twice in the second quarter, taking a 20-10 lead just two minutes into the quarter. Butler climbed back within three, 21-18, on an Ericka Mattingly three-pointer with 5:35 left before the break. However, a 9-2 run by the T-Birds pushed the margin back to 10 with under two minutes left in the half.
Trailing 32-23 at the break, Butler managed to cut the lead down to five despite making just two field goals in the third quarter. Neither team shot well in the quarter, as the Grizzlies went 2-of-18 (11.1 percent) to Cloud's 1-of-10 (10 percent).
Butler cut the deficit to four twice in the final quarter, beginning when Awreona Ransom hit a jumper with 8:30 left to make the score 37-33.
Mattingly added a layup at the 5:35 mark for Butler's next basket at 39-35, but the Grizzlies failed to make another field goal for another four minutes. Cloud closed the game out by hitting 7-of-8 from the foul line in the final 2:30.
Mattingly led Butler with 13 points, seven rebounds, three steals and three blocks, while Birch and Ransom each finished with seven points.
Butler will host Pratt (3-22, 2-20) on Saturday at the Power Plant in a 5:30 p.m. tipoff. The Grizzlies will be looking to sweep the Beavers, having won the previous meeting 74-42 back on Jan. 3.
NOTES: Butler's previous low mark on the season in field goal shooting came in a 59-53 home loss to Hutchinson on Dec. 6, as the Grizzlies made just 27.1 percent (16-of-59) from the field... Before Wednesday's game, Butler's low for points in a game on the season was 52 (vs. Independence, Nov. 29).