Butler Hosts Wright State Thursday

2009-10 Butler Women's Basketball
Butler (10-6, 3-2 HL) vs. Wright State (5-10, 1-4 HL) 

Thursday, January 14, 2010 - 7 p.m. ET
Indianapolis, Ind. - Hinkle Fieldhouse

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Bulldogs Host Wright State

The Butler women's basketball team hosts Wright State Thursday, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs, 3-2 in the Horizon League, are coming off a 26-point win at Youngstown State. Butler is 6-1 at home this season and swept both meetings against WSU last season. Wright State is coming off a pair of home losses last weekend.

 

The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines

1. Horizon League Home Cooking: The Bulldogs are 20-8 in their last 28 Horizon League home contests, dating back to January 2007. The Dogs are 2-1 in home HL games this season and were 8-1 last season. BU has an average margin of victory of 9.3 in its three home league games. 

2. 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 15.8 points per game, and she is also among the league leaders in rebounding (4th, 8.4), steals (3rd, 2.4) and blocks (2nd, 1.7). The 6-foot-1 senior hit all seven of her shots and all three of her free throws for 17 points at Cleveland State, and she followed that with 19 points and nine rebounds at Youngstown State.

3. Depending On Defense: Butler's defense has been the primary factor in whether BU wins or not. In Butler victories, the Bulldogs are holding opponents to 53.4 points and 36.2 percent shooting. In six BU losses, the team is giving up 78.7 points per game and allowing 47.1 percent shooting. The Bulldogs are 7-0 when yielding less than 70 points, and 0-5 when giving up more than 70.

4. Coach Couture's Battle: BU head coach Beth Couture successfully battled breast cancer during the offseason, and as of last 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. Need To Make A Move In The Standings: Butler needs to win both home games this weekend in order to make a push toward the top of the Horizon League standings. BU is currently fifth and is the only team with a 3-2 league record. With a pair of wins and a little help, the Bulldogs can move into a three-way tie for second place. UIC plays unbeaten and 14th-ranked Green Bay this weekend and Cleveland State hosts winless Youngstown State. There is a scenario this weekend where Butler, Cleveland State and Detroit would all be 5-2.

 

 

Butler vs. Wright State: Butler has controlled the series against WSU in recent years, winning five of the past eight meetings. Butler defeated Wright State twice last season, including a 58-45 win at Hinkle Fieldhouse. BU has won three of the past four games vs. the Raiders at Hinkle.

Looking For A Wright State Repeat: In BU's 58-45 win over Wright State last season, Melanie Thornton had a game-high 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting. WSU shot just 30.5 percent and the margin of victory may have been more if not for 22 Butler turnovers.

Couture Chasing Wins Record: With the win over Youngstown State last weekend, Beth Couture moved past June Olkowski (1993-99) for second place on Butler's all-time wins list with 115. She is just nine victories shy of Linda Mason's (1976-84) school-record 124 wins.

More On Mel: Melanie Thornton ranks in the top six in the Horizon League in six different categories (see page 4). Thornton has at least 12 points in each of the last 10 games, and she has scored at least nine points in each game this she has played this season. The senior had a career night against UIC on Jan. 4, 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.

...Mel Moving Up List: Thornton is sixth in BU history with 98 blocked shots and needs seven more to catch Kelly Kuhn (1997-01) for fifth in school history. 

Ball Control: Butler has taken good care of the ball this season, ranking 39th in the country (first in the HL) with just 15.8 turnovers per game. The Bulldogs are also 44th in the nation (second in the HL) with a 3.56 turnover margin.

Bowen Keeps Scorin': Brittany Bowen, currently eighth 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 Miami, 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).

Sharpshooter: Brittany Bowen ranks fourth in the league and 34th in the country in field goal percentage (.533). Her field goal percentage is fourth in the nation among players listed as a guard. She also stands 62nd in the country in free throw percentage (.833). 

O-H-I-O: Butler is 19-10 against teams from the state of Ohio over the last four seasons, including a 9-3 mark in Hinkle Fieldhouse. 

That's Offensive: BU's 82 points against Ball State on Dec. 30 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.

Different Lineup, Different Defense: After giving up 81 points at Cleveland State, Beth Couture inserted a different starting lineup with Claire Freeman and Devin Brierly to shore up the team's perimeter defense. The change helped Butler hold Youngstown State to a season-low 14 points in the first half.

Susan Moving Up: Susan Lester continues to climb several career-record lists at Butler. With 11 rebounds last weekend, Lester is now sixth all-time in boards at BU. With just eight 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 third in the Horizon League in free throw shooting, hitting at a 71.1 percent rate. Butler's 12-for-13 FT showing vs. Loyola was the team's best since 2005. BU is shooting 72.4 percent from the line during home games, and has made more FTs (105) than opponents have attempted (90).

Bowen At The FT Line: Brittany Bowen, a career .820 free throw shooter, made 25 foul shots in a row before missing one vs. UIC. She is 36-for-40 dating back to November 21 at Saint Louis.

Just Make Shots: Sometimes basketball is simple: just make shots. Butler is 9-0 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 last weekend. She played 21 minutes at Cleveland State and started at Youngstown State.

Chloe Solid At The ‘4': Chloe Hamilton, who has started all 16 games this season, tied her career high with 12 points at Youngstown State. It was her second 12-point game of the season and third of her career.

Here's A Stat To Watch: Butler commits a league-low 15.8 turnovers per game, ranking 39th in the country in taking care of the ball. Wright State averages 21.3 turnovers per game, the most in the Horizon League.

X-Factor: Susan Lester, still rounding into form since suffering a variety of injuries last summer and after the Cancun trip, will be a key to Thursday's game. Butler has a sizable height advantage over Wright State, giving Lester and BU's other post players to be able to succeed in the paint.