2009-10 Butler Women's Basketball
Butler (8-4, 1-0 HL) vs. UIC (4-8, 1-0 HL)
Monday, January 4, 2010 - 7 p.m. ET
Indianapolis, Ind. - Hinkle Fieldhouse
Bulldogs Host UIC Monday Night
The Butler women's basketball team, a winner in six of its last seven games, aims for a 2-0 Horizon Leauge start when it hosts UIC Monday, Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. BU, now 5-0 at home, is coming off a 73-52 win over Loyola. The Bulldogs have won the previous five meetings against the Flames dating back to 2007.
The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. Bulldogs Have Won 6 of 7: Butler had its four-game win streak snapped at Dayton before the holiday, but BU has rebounded with double-digit home wins over Ball State and Loyola. BU, 5-1 in December, started its current run with a 77-41 win over Evansville and then went on to defeat Miami (Ohio) (68-60), Indiana State (67-60) and Cincinnati (65-48). The 36-point win over UE was Butler's largest margin of victory since 1999. It marked the third time the Dogs had won four straight non-conference games under Beth Couture.
2. Bowen Leading The Team: Junior Brittany Bowen, last season's leading scorer, has once again emerged as a go-to option on offense. Bowen is averaging a team-best 14.4 points per game while shooting .526 from the floor and .447 from 3-point range. The Columbus, Ind., native scored 20 points vs. Ball State and has led BU in scoring six times this season, including a 25-point effort at Cincinnati.
3. Coach Couture's Battle: BU head coach Beth Couture successfully battled breast cancer during the offseason. 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 is averaging 14.2 points and 8.7 rebounds while also leading the team in blocks and steals. She is coming off her best game this season, with 21 points, six rebounds and five steals against Loyola. She had 17 points, 16 rebounds and five steals vs. Ball State.
5. Winning Despite Injuries: Butler's 5-1 streak is more impressive when you consider it's been done despite the Bulldogs being hit with injuries. Senior All-Horizon League forward Susan Lester injured her foot and elbow and missed two games before being used sparingly the last few games. Key subs Devin Brierly and Becca Bornhorst have also missed time recently. Brierly hasn't played since Dec. 9 at Indiana State and Bornhorst is currently on crutches.
Love The Windy City: After Saturday's win vs. Loyola, Butler is now 19-12 against the Chicago schools under Beth Couture. BU is 11-4 against Loyola and 8-8 against UIC. The Bulldogs have won the last five meetings against the Flames, including two wins last year by double digits.
That's Offensive: BU's 82 points against Ball State on Wednesday was the season's highest total. The Bulldogs put up 81 points at Dayton. The 163 points over a two-game span is the program's highest since March 2007.
More On Bowen: Brittany Bowen has been BU's top scorer six times this season. She tied her career high with 25 points at Cincinnati and also had 20 points against Ball State. She has posted team highs vs. Kentucky (16), IPFW (17), Evansville (19), Miami (Ohio) (18). Against MU, Bowen had 18 points and 10 rebounds, her second career double-double. Bowen is among the Horizon League leaders in five different categories (see page 4).
More On Mel: Melanie Thornton ranks in the top six in the Horizon League in five different categories. She is second in the league in blocks (1.6) while ranking third in rebounds (8.7) and steals (2.6). Her 14.2 scoring average is sixth in the conference.
Party Like Its 2009: BU finished the 2009 calendar year with a 21-10 record. It was the team's best year since going 21-8 in 2007.
Couture Chasing Wins Record: Beth Couture continues her climb toward the school record for wins. She is just 11 wins shy of Linda Mason's (1976-84) school-record 124 wins. Couture needs one more win to tie June Olkowski (1993-99) for second place with 114.
Butler Vs. Dayton: Butler's double-overtime loss at Dayton was one of the team's best performances of the season. The Bulldogs were down by 12 at halftime, but made a barrage of 3-pointers and forced 25 Flyer turnovers to force overtime. BU trailed by five late in the first overtime but went on a 7-2 run to send the game into a second OT period. Butler led 81-79 with 55 seconds left but Dayton scored the last five points of the game to eke out the win.
UIC Vs. Dayton: Three other Horizon League teams have played Dayton, including UIC. UD beat the Flames by 27 in Chicago on Nov. 30. Dayton won by at least 21 points with an average margin of victory of 27.3 vs. its three HL opponents excluding Butler.
Home Cooking: Butler is 5-0 at home this season, winning those games by an average margin of 17.2 points. BU is 20-6 in its last 26 regular season Horizon League homes games, dating back to 2007.
Pitt Heating Up: In Butler's first five games, Alyssa Pittman shot just .308 from the floor while scoring 7.4 points a game. In the seven games since then, the junior is shooting .370 and averaging 11.0 points per game. Pittman made seven 3s at Dayton and four treys each against Miami and Indiana State.
Hamilton Plays Solid At The 4: Chloe Hamilton, starting at the ‘4' spot this season, is having her best season as a Bulldog. She is averaging 7.3 points and 5.0 rebounds while playing 25.8 minutes per contest. The Michigan native has four double-digit scoring outings this season, including when she tied her career best with 12 points vs. Evansville. Hamilton also had 10 points vs. Syracuse, Ball State and Loyola.
Tall Dogs: This year's Butler roster is the tallest squad since Beth Couture arrived on campus in 2002. BU's average height is 5-10 2/3, just a bit taller than the 2007 team.
Make Them, They're Free: The Bulldogs have been solid at the line lately, shooting 81.9 percent over the last four games. Butler's 12-for-13 FT showing vs. Loyola was the team's best since 2005.
Bowen At The FT Line: Brittany Bowen, a career .830 free throw shooter, has made 25 foul shots in a row. She is 30-for-31 dating back to November 21 at Saint Louis.
Just Make Shots: Sometimes basketball is simple: just make shots. Butler is 7-0 when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. The Dogs are 1-4 when the other team shoots better.
Defending Well In First Half: Butler has played its best defense in the first half of games this season. Opponents average just 27.8 points in the first half this season. BU has held six opponents to less than 25 points in the first half: IPFW (21 points), Northern Iowa (16) and Evansville (20), Miami (24), ISU (23) and Loyola (21).
Everyone Hits The Boards: In Butler's 11 games, the Dogs have been led in rebounds by five different players. Melanie Thornton has the the team in boards five times, Brittany Bowen three times while Susan Lester and Becca Bornhorst have each been the top rebounder twice.
Bornhorst Hurt: Becca Bornhorst, one of Butler's key post players, missed the last two games with a leg injury. Bornhorst, who has scored in double figures three times this season, will miss the next few games.
Here's A Stat To Watch: One area in which Beth Couture would like her team improve is rebounding. UIC currently ranks second in the Horizon League with 13.6 offensive rebounds per game. Boxing out and limiting UIC's second-chance shots will be a key.
X-Factor: Alyssa Pittman showed she can do more than shoot 3-pointers when she made three mid-range baskets and created off the dribble vs. Loyola. As teams identify her as a shooter, more options will open for Pittman driving to the basket.