Butler Hosts Youngstown State Thursday

Butler Hosts Youngstown State Thursday

2009-10 Butler Women's Basketball
Butler (14-7, 7-3 HL) vs. Youngstown State (0-22, 0-11 HL)

 Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010 - 7 p.m. ET

Indianapolis, Ind. - Hinkle Fieldhouse

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Bulldogs Host Youngstown State Thursday

The Butler women's basketball team, just one game back in the loss column in the Horizon League standings, host two key league games this weekend. BU hosts Youngstown State, a team it beat 74-48 four weeks ago, Thursday night at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs have won five of six and are 7-3 in the league standings, one half-game behind Green Bay for second place.


The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines

1. Horizon League Race: At 7-3 in Horizon League play, a win by Butler Thursday night would pull the Bulldogs into a tie for second in the league standings (see page 4). League-leading Detroit, a team BU beat by 21 on Jan. 23, is 9-2 and Green Bay is 8-3. Two Butler wins this weekend can, at worst, bring the Bulldogs outright into second-place tie at 9-3. 


2. Entering The Pink Zone: Butler will be hosting its WBCA Pink Zone game Saturday vs. Cleveland State. The WBCA Pink Zone is a national breast cancer awareness initiative. Butler, in conjunction with the St. Vincent Foundation, will honor head coach and breast cancer survivor Beth Couture with many of her doctors and radiologists in attendance. Cancer survivors will be admitted free and fans are encouraged to wear pink.


3. Coach Couture's Battle: BU head coach Beth Couture successfully battled breast cancer during the offseason, and as of two weeks ago 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. Butler's WBCA Pink Zone game for breast cancer awareness is Saturday, Feb. 13 vs. Cleveland State.


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 15.3 points per game. She is also among the league leaders in rebounding (5th, 7.6), steals (3rd, 2.2) and blocks (2nd, 1.8). 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 five double-doubles this season and is averaging 15.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game over the last four games.


5. Depending On Defense: Butler's defense has been the primary factor in whether BU wins or not. In 14 Butler victories, the Bulldogs are holding opponents to 54.4 points and .366 field goal shooting. In seven BU losses, the team is giving up 77.9 points per game and allowing 48 percent shooting. In the previous meeting with YSU, BU held the Penguins to 48 points, including just 14 in the first half.


Butler vs. Youngstown State: BU leads the all-time series between the two schools, 14-5, and has won eight straight contests against the Penguins. The Dogs are 7-2 vs. Youngstown State in Hinkle and Beth Couture is 14-3 against YSU. Butler hasn't lost to Youngstown State since January 2006.

First Meeting With YSU: Butler held Youngstown State to 14 first-half points en route to a 74-48 win back on Jan. 16. The Bulldogs then shot 64 percent in the second half. Melanie Thornton had 19 points and nine rebounds and Chloe Hamilton scored 12 points.

1st YSU Game Was The Start: Butler's win at YSU on Jan. 16 was its first with its current starting lineup. Since the lineup change, Butler has gone 5-1 and is shooting .479 from the floor.

Couture Chasing Wins Record: Beth Couture has moved past June Olkowski (1993-99) for second place on Butler's all-time wins list with 119. She is just five victories shy of tying Linda Mason's (1976-84) school-record 124 wins. BU's win over Wright State on Jan. 21 was Couture's 600th career game as a college head coach. She is 377-227 in her 21-year career.

Ball Control: Butler has taken good care of the ball this season, ranking in the top 50 in the country (second in the HL) with just 16.0 turnovers per game. Six times this season, the Bulldogs have committed 14 turnovers or less. The Horizon League average is 17.6 turnovers per contest. BU is also second in the HL with a +2.57 turnover margin. 

More On Mel: Melanie Thornton ranks in the top five in the Horizon League in five different categories (see page 4). Thornton has at least 10 points in each of the last 15 games, and she has scored at least nine points in each game she has played this season. The senior had 24 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and three blocks against UIC on Jan. 4. Thornton, who has five double-doubles this season, is averaging 16.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.2 steals in league play this season.

...Mel Moving Up List: Thornton is fifth in BU history with 108 blocked shots and needs 31 more to catch Kelly Kuhn (1997-01) for fourth in school history. 

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.

Sharpshooters: As a team, Butler charts second in the HL and top 40 in the country with a .438 field goal percentage. The Bulldogs, who have shot 50 percent five times this season, converted on 57.3 percent of its shots in the first meeting vs. YSU on Jan. 16.

Sharpest Shooter: Brittany Bowen, who is second on the team in scoring (12.2), ranks among the league leaders in FG percentage (.517, 8th), FT shooting (.783, 6th) and 3FG percentage (.426, 3rd). Bowen has scored 15 points or more eight times this season.

Depending On Defense: Butler is 9-0 when holding opponents to less than 60 points. The Bulldogs, who are 8-1 at home, are allowing just 55.7 points per game at home. In the last three games in Hinkle, opponents have managed just 49.3 points per game.

Chloe Solid At The ‘4': Chloe Hamilton, who has started all 21 games this season, tied her career high with 16 points at Green Bay on Jan. 28. She had her first career double-double vs. Wright State on Jan. 21 with 16 points and 10 rebounds. She also has two 12-point games this season.

...Chloe In The Last 6: Chloe Hamilton is shooting .600 (24-for-40) in the last six games, a span that started in Youngstown on Jan. 16. The 5-foot-10 junior shot 5-for-7 and scored 12 at YSU. 

Pitt Heating Up: Alyssa Pittman, who has made 195 career 3-pointers, is giving Butler the scoring the team has been looking for lately. The junior hit three straight 3s in the final 3:43 to bring BU back from a 9-point deficit at UWM. Pittman is averaging 9.8 points over the last six games while shooting .412 (14-for-34) 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 1,161 points. She is now sixth all-time with 710 rebounds and fifth in both 3-pointers made (131) and attempted (389).

Defending Home Court: Butler is 8-1 at home this season, including double-digit wins in each of the last three games. BU is 18-5 at home over the past two seasons.

Just Make Shots: Sometimes basketball is simple: just make shots. Butler is 13-0 when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. The Dogs are 1-7 when the other team shoots better.

That's Offensive: BU is second in the Horizon League in scoring with 68.9 points per game. The Bulldogs have scored at least 70 in a game eight times this season, while Youngstown State has not done so once this season.

Here's A Stat To Watch: In league play, Youngstown State is averaging a league-best 13.6 offensive rebounds per game. The Penguins can potentially do damage on the offensive glass because they shoot a league-low .314 from the floor and have an active rebounder in Brandi Brown.

X-Factor: Depth could be a deciding factor in Thursday night's game. Youngstown State dresses just eight players and Butler has shown excellent balance recently. Against Valpo last weekend, Melanie Thornton was the only BU player in double figures with 17 points. However, Butler showed it is deep, with five other players scoring at least five points.