MATTHEWS – For the better part of three quarters, the Butler defense was the story in their conference match-up with red-hot Myers Park, who came in winners of six straight.
The Bulldogs led 39-37 after opening up their biggest lead, 37-28, midway through the third quarter.
But Myers Park would go on a 22-4 run from there, taking a 50-41 advantage before settling for the 62-54 win.
The loss assures Butler (10-10 overall, 6-4 conference) will not win the league this year and continues a season full of near misses.
“It just got away from us,” Butler coach Myron Lowery said. “They’ve got to be able to make some shots and make them pay. That’s part of our process. We’ve been very up and down and very inconsistent.”
The Bulldogs, playing their eighth straight game without suspended guard Jordan McPhatter, at times struggled to get into their offense, especially in the second half when Myers Park amped up the pressure.
The Mustangs went small to open the fourth quarter after struggling to guard Butler’s 7-foot center Patrick Wessler, who was the only Bulldog in double figures (23 points and 10 rebounds).
“Their pressure bothered us, they sped it up and we didn’t handle it well,” Lowery said. “We took quick shots, we turned it over and didn’t do well getting it into Patrick at times. We have to use the proper angles to get it to him and play off of him better when they collapse. They’re young, but they have to learn.”
Butler played Independence on Feb. 4, after Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly’s press deadline, and close at Hickory Ridge and Garinger and with East Meck at home.
They should at least be able to split those games and enter the conference tournament and postseason with some confidence.
“At times we go too long of periods without scoring,” Lowery said. “You can only play defense so long for so well before it breaks down. They’ve got some really good players over there, and we struggled with that some.
“The good news is we’re there every game, we can’t sometimes seem to get over the hump.”