Butler men beat Cowley to earn first-round home playoff game

Butler men beat Cowley to earn first-round home playoff game

The Butler men have earned the right to play at home in the first round of the upcoming Region VI playoffs after defeating Cowley by a 72-63 score at the Power Plant on Monday.

The win gives Butler the season sweep of the Tigers for the second straight season. It also assure Butler a top-eight finish in the Jayhawk Conference standings, which is good for a home playoff game in the first round on Thursday. Early indications are that Butler will play Northwest Kansas Tech. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The Butler men led 4-2 early on before Cowley scored five straight. Travis House hit a 3-pointer to tie the game 7-7 with 14:50 left in the half, but it was not enough to slow Cowley. The Tigers would go on to lead 20-9 with 9:45 to go in the first half.

Butler would come roaring back. Down by six points, Caelan Neal scored six straight, including a dunk to tie the game 24-24 with 5:20 left in the half. Moments later, Semaj Hervey's layup put the Grizzlies up 26-24.

Butler went into the break ahead 33-29 and never trailed in the second half. Butler's biggest lead came on a layup by Derrick Byrd with 11:15 to go that made it a 55-39 Butler lead.

Cowley would battle gack, getting as close as five points with 5:28 to play, but Semaj Hervey and Derrick Byrd combined to score Butler's final 11 points as the Grizzlies held on to win.

Hervey had a career-high 24 points in the win, making 10 of 12 shots after going scoreless at Pratt on Saturday. Byrd scored 21 points, giving him 48 in the past two games. Caelan Neal had 14 points and a team-high 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.

Butler made 44 percent of its shots (30-of-68) and was just 21 percent from 3-point range (3-of-14) but was 82 percent from the free-throw line (9-of-11) in the game.