INDIANAPOLIS – The Butler women’s basketball team is headed for postseason play for the second straight season. The Bulldogs, who finished second in both the Horizon League standings and league tournament, received the conference’s automatic bid and will travel to Illinois State for a game on Wednesday, March 17. ISU is 24-7 and finished first in the Missouri Valley this season.
“I’m proud of our players for having a solid year. Getting to the postseason has been a goal of ours,” head coach Beth Couture said. “To get in back-to-back years is a tribute to the hard work. It’s exciting to play again. Nobody on our team is ready to have their last game.”
Butler (23-9) is enjoying its best season in recent memory. The Bulldogs’ 23 victories are the program’s most in 12 years and BU was tied for first in the league standings as late as Feb. 27. The Dogs have won 11 of their last 13 game and finished 12-2 at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Last year, Butler was 19-11 and advance to the second round of the WNIT. Like this season, BU earned the league’s automatic WNIT bid after finishing second in the standings. Butler won its first round game at Duquesne (59-58) before falling at Marquette (58-49).
The Bulldogs are led by 6-foot-1 senior Melanie Thornton, who was named Horizon League Player of the Year this season. She averages 15.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.4 steals per contest. She was also named the league’s defensive player of the year and was an all-tournament team pick last weekend in Green Bay.
This postseason features three postseason teams, Butler as well as two NCAA Tournament qualifiers. Cleveland State won the conference tournament after finishing fourth in the regular season and making a run in the tourney. The Vikings defeated Butler, 66-57, in the league title game. CSU is a 15 seed in the Kansas City region and will play at No. 2 seed Notre Dame. Regular season champion Green Bay earned an at-large bid and was seeded 12th in the Dayton regional. GB will play Virginia in Ames, Iowa.
Green Bay’s NCAA at-large bid is the first in the history of Horizon League women’s basketball. GB’s inclusion in the NCAA tourney clinched Butler’s automatic WNIT bid, as the Bulldogs became the top Horizon League team to not make the tournament.