SALINA, Kan. - The Butler women are now just one game away from the final four after another dominating defensive performance on Wednesday at the NJCAA Division I National Tournament in Salina.
For the second straight game, Butler held an opponent to less than 40 points, as the Grizzlies defeated Shelton State (Ala.) 51-39 to advance to the national quarterfinals for the first time in school history.
Butler improves to 34-2 on the season, further extending the program record for wins in a season. The Grizzlies will now play No. 2 Chipola College of Florida (32-1) to go to the national semifinals. Shelton State sees its season end with a 30-4 record.
Butler got off to one of its usual strong defensive starts against Shelton State, holding the Buccaneers scoreless for more than seven minutes to begin the contest. Butler built an 8-0 lead in that time.
Shelton would score three quick buckets to cut Butler's lead to just two points before Ashley Gibson scored inside to make it a 10-6 with 10:51 left in the half. Shelton State would never again get any closer than that, and after Terryauna Godwin scored with 5:15 left in the half, the Grizzlies had regained the original margin at 17-9.
Butler would push the advantage to double digits for the first time when a Kynadi Johnson basket made it a 21-11 game with 2:18 left in the period and the Grizzlies grabbed their largest lead when Ashley Gibson grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled as she scored with 11 seconds left in the half. Her free throw made the score 26-13 at the break.
Shelton would outscore Butler 6-2 to start the second half and would continue to trim Butler's lead as the game wound down. The Buccaneers would get within seven points with 4:54 to play as the Grizzlies were struggling at the free throw line.
Butler responded with a 7-0 run including baskets by Te'era Williams and Ashlee Ivy, the second of which came with 1:36 left that sealed the game for the Grizzlies.
Ashley Gibson led Butler with 17 points, while Te'era Williams had nine and Ashlee Ivy had seven with a team-high nine rebounds. After holding Southwest Mississippi to just 15 percent shooting in the first round, Butler held Shelton State to 31 percent shooting (12-31) on Wednesday.