Garden pulls away from Butler late in conference opener

The Butler men battled Garden City tough in the conference opener for both teams on Wednesday at the Power Plant before bowing to the Broncbusters, 83-76. 

The Grizzlies, paced by freshman Sean Osler, led most of the first half. Osler scored eight straight points as Butler went from down by a point to leading 17-11 with 11:22 left in the first half.

Garden City would come charging back, but Jake Green would score with less than a minute left in the period to tie the game 41-41 at halftime. 

Butler would take another lead early in the second half on a 3-pointer by Justin Simmons, but Garden City would dominate the next 12 minutes of play and would go ahead by as many as 18, at 72-54 with seven minutes to go.

The Grizzlies showed some resolve and managed to get it as close as six points (77-71) with 1:02 to play, but would not get any closer.

Butler was led in scoring by Simmons, who was just one point off his season average with 19 points. Sean Osler scored a career-high 18 points, 15 of which came in the first half. Simmons and Zac Bargen each had six rebounds apiece to lead Butler.

Garden City, meanwhile, was led by Gorey Johnson, who had a game-high 25 points. Juwan Rheubottom also added 22.

Butler is now 6-9 on the season, 0-1 in Jayhawk West Conference play. Garden City, which is receiving votes in the latest national poll, is now 13-2 on the season and 1-0 in conference action.

Butler will be off this weekend before taking to the road to face No. 10 Hutchinson, which lost for the first time this season in a 78-75 setback against Dodge City in its conference opener on Wednesday.