Butler Hosts Milwaukee Thursday Night
2009-10 Butler Women's Basketball
Butler (18-7, 11-3 HL) vs. Milwaukee (10-15, 5-9 HL)
Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010 - 7 p.m. ET
Indianapolis, Ind. - Hinkle Fieldhouse
PROMOTION: Greek Night, sponsored Panhellenic Council. Giveaway for Butler students in Greek system.
Bulldogs Host Milwaukee Thursday Night
The Butler women's basketball team continues its chase for a Horizon League championship Thursday at 7 p.m. against Milwaukee. The Bulldogs are in a three-way tie in the loss column atop the Horizon League standings. BU, which has won nine of its last 10 games, defeated Milwaukee, 71-70, on Jan. 30.
The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. Horizon League Race: At 11-3 in Horizon League play, Butler enters Thursday's game vs. UWM in a three-way tie in the loss column atop the Horizon League standings. Detroit, a team Butler has beaten twice, currently holds a half-game lead at 12-3. Butler and defending league champ Green Bay are each 11-3. Butler is the only team in the league's top 3 at home this weekend, as Detroit travels to CSU and YSU and Green Bay is at Valpo before coming to Hinkle on Saturday.
2. Hot Stretch: Butler has won nine of its last 10 games, including six straight. Over the last 10 games, Butler is shooting .464 from the floor (.340 from 3) and winning by an average margin of +13.2. Eight of the team's nine rotation players are shooting at least .389 during the stretch. Defensively, BU is allowing just 56.0 points per game, including holding four opponents to less than 50 points.
3. Coach Couture's Battle: BU head coach Beth Couture successfully battled breast cancer during the offseason, and she has been recently deemed officially cancer-free. She was diagnosed last April and after 16 weeks of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation treatments, Couture is back on the sideline for her 8th season at Butler. Couture's last treatment came just days before the season opener at Kentucky.
4. Stat Sheet Stuffer: Senior forward Melanie Thornton's athleticism has allowed her to contribute all over the floor this season. Thornton leads the team and ranks second in the Horizon League with 15.1 points per game. She is also among the league leaders in rebounding (4th, 8.3), steals (5th, 2.1) and blocks (2nd, 1.7). She is the only player in the league to rank in the top 5 in scoring, rebounding and steals. The 6-foot-1 senior has put up eight double-doubles this season, and three in the last four games. Thornton is averaging 14.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks while shooting .507 over the last six games.
5. Butler In The National Rankings: The Bulldogs' stellar season has earned them several mentions in the NCAA Division I statistical rankings. In the latest NCAA rankings, BU is 30th in FG percentage (43.9), 48th in win-loss percentage (.720), 51st in turnovers per game (15.9) and 50th in turnover margin (2.72).
Butler vs. Milwaukee: UWM leads the all-time series between the two schools, 18-16. Milwaukee controlled the early part of the 2000s, winning eight straight vs. BU. However, Butler has won five of the past eight meetings. Beth Couture is 7-10 against UWM.
First Meeting With UWM: Claire Freeman's jumper with 0.6 seconds left gave Butler a 71-70 win back on Jan. 30. BU trailed late until Brittany Bowen hit a 3 with 14.5 seconds left. UWM's Danielle Jorgenson answered with a bucket before Freeman's game-winner. Melanie Thornton had 14 points on 7-for-8 shooting to lead the Bulldogs.
Couture Chasing Wins Record: Beth Couture, with 123 victories at Butler, is now won shy of tying Linda Mason (1976-84) for the school record. Couture has moved past June Olkowski (1993-99) for second place on Butler's all-time wins list with 123. She is just two victories shy of tying Linda Mason's (1976-84) school-record 124 wins.
An Anomaly: It seemed everything that BU does well went poorly last Saturday at Wright State. Butler, normally an efficient shooting team, shot a season-low 26.8 percent. The Bulldogs, one of the country's best at taking care of the ball, committed a season-high 27 turnovers. Still, the Dogs came back from a big deficit to send the game into overtime. BU outscored the Raiders, 11-8, in the extra period.
Ball Control: Butler has taken good care of the ball this season, ranking 51st in the country (second in the HL) with just 15.9 turnovers per game. Eight times this season, the Bulldogs have committed 14 turnovers or less. The Horizon League average is 17.3 turnovers per contest. BU is also second in the HL with a +2.72 turnover margin.
More On Mel: Melanie Thornton ranks in the top five in the Horizon League in six different categories (see page 4). Thornton has at least 10 points in 18 of her last 19 games, and she has scored at least eight points in each game she has played this season. The senior had 17 points and 14 boards at Detroit and grabbed 12 more rebounds at Wright State. Thornton, who has eight double-doubles this season, is averaging 16.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.9 blocks in league play this season.
...Mel Moving Up List: Melanie Thornton is fifth in BU history with 114 blocked shots and needs 25 more to catch Kelly Kuhn (1997-01) for fourth in school history.
Mel Makes It Count: Melanie Thornton went just 2-for-10 at Wright State last Saturday, but her second basket was a key play that helped BU win in overtime. Leading 49-48 in the final seconds of overtime, the Bulldogs went inside to Thornton for a lay-up with 14 seconds to go. The shot was the final basket of the game and forced WSU into a three-point deficit as time expired.
Claire's A Big Shot: Although just a freshman, Claire Freeman has a track record of hitting big shots. Her jumper with 0.6 seconds left was the difference in BU's 71-70 win at UWM on Jan. 30. In high school last year, Freeman hit a shot with :03 left to win the IHSAA 2A state title for Heritage Christian.
Lineup Change Paying Off: Following Butler's 13-point loss at Cleveland State on Jan. 14, Beth Couture changed the starting lineup. The change has paid off, as the Bulldogs are 9-1 and shooting .464 from the floor since the switch.
Sharpshooters: As a team, Butler charts second in the HL and top 30 in the country with a .439 field goal percentage this season. The Bulldogs, who have shot 50 percent six times this season, converted on 53.5 percent (32-for-60) of its shots vs. Youngstown State on Feb. 11. BU shot .500 at Milwaukee on Jan. 30.
Depending On Defense: Butler's defense has been the primary factor in whether BU wins or not. In 18 Butler victories, the Bulldogs are holding opponents to 54.1 points and .361 field goal shooting. In seven BU losses, the team is giving up 77.9 points per game and allowing 48 percent shooting.
Chloe Solid At The ‘4': Chloe Hamilton, who has started all 25 games this season, scored 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting at Detroit last week. The junior scored a career-best 16 points in her first career double-double vs. Wright State on Jan. 21. She also had 16 points at Green Bay on Jan. 28. Over the last 10 games, Hamilton is averaging 9.8 points and shooting a blazing .600 from the floor.
Just Make Shots: Sometimes basketball is simple: just make shots. Butler is 16-0 when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. The Dogs are 2-7 when the other team shoots better.
Pitt Heating Up: Alyssa Pittman, who has made 203 career 3-pointers, is giving Butler the scoring the team has been looking for lately. The junior, who hit three big 3s last week at UDM, hit both of her long-range shots vs. YSU on Feb. 11 and hit 2-for-5 vs. CSU last Saturday. Pittman is BU's second leading scorer in league play (9.6 ppg) and has hit 12 of her last 26 from beyond the arc.
Susan Moving Up: Susan Lester continues to climb several career-record lists at Butler. Lester is now 12th on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,194 points. She is now sixth all-time with 738 rebounds and fifth in both 3-pointers made (132) and attempted (393).
Susan Being A Senior: Susan Lester has made key plays down the stretch in each of the last three games. She made two FTs with two big rebounds and a block in the final 1:55 against Cleveland State on Feb. 13. Lester had two putbacks with Butler trailing late and added another bucket with 0:33 left with BU up three to help the Bulldogs to the win. She made two free throws in overtime at Wright State with Butler down one.
...And Making Her FTs: Susan Lester ranks fourth in the Horizon League in free throw percentage (.833). The senior, a career .805 shooter at the line, has made 26 of her last 28 foul shots dating back to Jan. 16.
‘Terra-fic' At The Point: Much of the credit for Butler's low turnover numbers could go to point guard Terra Burns. The junior had a career-high nine assist against zero turnovers vs. Cleveland State on Feb. 13 and added four assists to one turnover at Detroit. Burns, who also had 12 points against the Vikings, has 42 assists against just 17 turnovers over the last 10 games.
Comeback Kids: In each of BU's last three games, the Dogs have had to make a late rally to win. Butler was down 66-61 with 4:38 to go before rallying with 11 straight points for a 72-66 win. Detroit led BU 60-55 with 3:49 left before the Dogs finished the game on a 17-2 run. Last Saturday, BU trailed by 13 in the second half before winning.
Winning Ways At Butler: At 18-7 with a minimum of five games to play, Butler has clinched its fifth straight winning season. The Bulldogs need two more victories to record their third consecutive 20-win season. After going 14-14 in 2004-05, Butler posted records of 15-14, 16-15 and 20-10, respectively, before finishing 20-12 last season.
Start Me Up: Butler is 13-1 in the 14 games in which Devin Brierly has started this season. She has started the last 10 games (9-1) and four non-conference wins. Melanie Thornton is 16-4 as a starter and Claire Freeman is 11-3.