Thornton, Bulldogs Highlight Horizon League Basketball Awards

INDIANAPOLIS - After concluding the regular season 21-8 and 14-4 in the Horizon League, the Butler women's basketball team highlighted the league's women's basketball postseason awards. Senior Melanie Thornton was named Horizon League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year while senior Susan Lester was voted the league's sixth player of the year.

Junior Alyssa Pittman was also honored, being selected for the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team. Pittman transferred to Butler this year after playing two seasons at Eastern Michigan.

"It's special for our players to be recognized by the coaches in our league," head coach Beth Couture said. "It's always nice to have individual achievements recognized.

Thornton was a force this season in all areas of the game, ranking in the top 10 in the Horizon League in seven different categories. The 6-foot-1 senior is second in the league in scoring with 15.7 points per game, third in rebounding (8.3), third in steals (2.3) and second in blocked shots (1.7). She has 10 double-doubles this season and has scored in double figures in 24 of her 26 games this season.

Thornton becomes the third player in BU history to be named league player of the year. Sarah Scheutz was Butler's last in 1998, and Julie VonDielingen won the award in 1992.

"Mel is a great example of a player who worked hard to improve during her entire career," Couture said. "As a senior, it has paid off. She has been a huge part of our success on both ends of the court. I couldn't be more proud of Mel."

Joining Thornton as first team all-league members were Kailey Klein (Cleveland State), Kayla Tetschlag and Celeste Hoewisch (Green Bay) and Brigid Mulroy (Detroit).

Lester, who came off the bench in 21 of her 27 games this season, won the reserve award after averaging 8.4 points and 5.4 rebounds. Her .838 free throw percentage is fourth in the league, but her accomplishments are best measured over the course of her brilliant four-year career. Lester is 11th in Butler history with 1,222 points. She is also in the school's top 10 in 3-pointers made and attempted and steals.

"For the last four years Susan has been a big part of what we have done to build our program," Couture said. "She has battled through different injuries this year, but she kept at it and became a presence off the bench. She came through for us many times during our tough league schedule. She could start on many teams, and having her makes it difficult for other teams to defend us."

Pittman averaged 9.0 points per game this season while leading the team with 54 3-pointers made. She was third in the league in scoring among newcomers this season.

"Alyssa has explosive offensive skills and that's helped us win many league games," Couture said. "She also made big plays defensively in many of our close games."

Detroit's Yar Shayok was named the HL's newcomer of the year and UDM's Autumn Rademacher was the coach of the year.

The Bulldogs will be the No. 2 seed in this week's Speedway Horizon League Women's Basketball Championship. BU hosts either Youngstown State or Wright State Wednesday, March 10 at 7 p.m. Green Bay is the No. 1 seed and will host the semifinals and final if it wins Wednesday's quarterfinal.