Bulldogs Aim For Rebound At Youngstown State

2009-10 Butler Women's Basketball
Butler (9-6, 2-2 HL) vs. Youngstown State (0-16, 0-5 HL)

 

Saturday, January 16, 2010 - 2 p.m. ET
Youngstown, Ohio - Beeghly Center

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Bulldogs Aim For Rebound At Youngstown State

The Butler women's basketball team will try to rebound from a double-digit loss on Thursday when it takes on Youngstown State Saturday, Jan. 16 at 2 p.m. The Bulldogs have won seven of their last 10, but have lost two of three. BU has won the last seven games vs. Youngstown State, having not lost to the Penguins since 2006.

 

The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines

1. Horizon League Road: The Bulldogs are 14-8 in their last 22 Horizon League road contests, dating back to 2007. The Dogs were 6-3 in league road games last year and 6-2 in 2007-08. BU has won the past seven meetings against the Penguins. YSU's last win in the series was a 71-63 decision in 2006.

2. Bulldogs Have Won 7 of 10: Butler, 5-1 in December, has won seven of its last 10 games. The Bulldogs' run started 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. Butler has also picked up double-digit wins over Ball State (82-67), Loyola (72-53) and Valparaiso (57-43) during the stretch.

3. 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 third in the Horizon League with 15.5 points per game, and she is also among the league leaders in rebounding (4th, 8.3), steals (4th, 2.4) and blocks (2nd, 1.8). The 6-foot-1 senior had a career night against UIC, going for 24 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and three blocks. Thornton is averaging 19.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.2 steals over the last five games.

4. Coach Couture's Battle: BU head coach Beth Couture successfully battled breast cancer during the offseason, and as of this week she is 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.

5. Winning Despite Injuries: Butler's current 7-3 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. Key subs Devin Brierly and Becca Bornhorst have also missed time recently. Brierly made her first appearance since Dec. 9 at Cleveland State. Bornhorst is still out with a leg injury and her return is unknown.

 

Butler vs. Youngstown State: Butler has controlled the series against YSU in recent years. The Bulldogs have won 13 of the last 14 against yhe Penguins, including seven straight dating back to 2006. BU's average margin of victory over the last five games is 17.2. Beth Couture is 13-3 against Youngstown State.

Looking For A Youngstown Repeat: Butler won at Youngstown State last year, 61-42. The Bulldogs held YSU to 30 percent shooting, and the game would've been more of a rout if Butler hadn't missed 15 free throws. Brittany Bowen led Butler with 12 points.

Couture Chasing Wins Record: With the win over Valparaiso last weekend, Beth Couture tied June Olkowski (1993-99) for second place on Butler's all-time wins list with 114. She is just 10 wins shy of Linda Mason's (1976-84) school-record 124 wins. 

More On Mel: Melanie Thornton ranks in the top seven in the Horizon League in six different categories (see page 4). Thornton has at least 12 points in each of the last nine games, and she has scored at least nine points in each game this she has played this season.

...Mel Moving Up List: Thornton is sixth in BU history with 96 blocked shots and needs nine more to catch Kelly Kuhn (1997-01) for fifth in school history.

...Look For More From Mel: Melanie Thornton had one point and shot 0-for-6 at YSU last year. She is averaging 19.8 points a game in league play and should be more of a threat for Butler on Saturday.

Bowen Keeps Scorin': Brittany Bowen, currently fourth in the league in scoring, 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).

Defense In Wins, In Losses: Butler's defense has been the deciding point whether the Bulldogs win or lose. BU is allowing just 54.0 points per game in wins, but allowing 78.7 points in losses. Butler is 0-5 when yielding 70+ points.

O-H-I-O: Butler is 18-10 against teams from the state of Ohio over the last three seasons, including a 7-2 mark last season. 

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. 

Defensive Struggle Vs. Valpo: Last Saturday's 57-43 win over Valparaiso was the lowest-scoring contest of the season. BU held Valparaiso to 30.5 percent shooting and just one 3-pointer. The two teams combined for just 8-for-14 free throw shooting. It was Butler's second-lowest defensive allowance of the year (41, Evansville).

Susan Moving Up: Susan Lester continues to climb several career-record lists at Butler. With eight rebounds on Thursday, Lester moved into a tie for sixth all-time in boards at BU. With just 13 more points, she will move into a tie for 14th on Butler's scoring list. She has also climbed to fifth in both 3-pointers made and attempted.

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 are second in the Horizon League in free throw shooting, and much of that has to do with the team's recent solid shooting. BU is hitting 77.0 percent of its free throws over the last eight games. Butler's 12-for-13 FT showing vs. Loyola was the team's best since 2005. BU is shooting 75.8 percent from the line during road games.

Bowen At The FT Line: Brittany Bowen, a career .824 free throw shooter, made 25 foul shots in a row before missing one vs. UIC. She is 33-for-36 dating back to November 21 at Saint Louis.

Just Make Shots: Sometimes basketball is simple: just make shots. Butler is 8-0 when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. The Dogs are 1-6 when the other team shoots better.

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.

Brierly Returns: After missing six games with an ankle injury, Devin Brierly made her return to the floor on Thursday at Cleveland State. The sophomore had three points and three assists in 21 minutes.

Winning Ways At Butler: The Bulldogs have posted a winning record in each of the past four seasons, including 20 wins in each of the last two years. 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.

Here's A Stat To Watch: In a pair of recent losses to UIC and Cleveland State, Butler has seen those teams shoot the ball well and build a big first-half lead. The Bulldogs are facing a Penguin team that ranks last in the Horizon League in field goal percentage (.321) and free throw percentage (.615).

X-Factor: After allowing 75 points in a loss to UIC on Jan. 4, Butler tightened up its defense in a 57-43 win over Valparaiso on Jan. 9. After yielding 81 points and 53 percent shooting at Cleveland State, recent history suggests a renewed commitment to defense by the Bulldogs.