February 17, 2010

Bulldogs Travel To League Leader Detroit Thursday

2009-10 Butler Women's Basketball
Butler (16-7, 9-3 HL) vs. Detroit (13-11, 11-2 HL)

 

Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010 - 7 p.m. ET
Detroit, Mich. - Calihan Hall

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Bulldogs Travel To League Leader Detroit Thursday

The Butler women's basketball team can inch closer to first place in the Horizon League standings with a win Thursday night at Detroit. The Bulldogs, 7-1 over the last eight games and winners of four straight, are 9-3 and one game back in the loss column. Detroit, a team BU defeated 65-44 on Jan. 23, is in first place at 11-2. The Titans have won six straight games since that loss in Hinkle Fieldhouse three weeks ago.

 

The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines

1. Horizon League Race: At 9-3 in Horizon League play, Butler enters Saturday's game against first-place Detroit in a second-place tie with defending league champ Green Bay. The Titans, a team Butler already beat by 21 points, is 11-2. Butler is the only team in the league's top 3 on the road this weekend, as Detroit hosts BU and Valpo and Green Bay welcomes the Chicago schools.

2. Hot Stretch: Butler is on a four-game winning streak and has won seven of its last eight games. Over the last eight games, Butler is shooting .485 from the floor (.354 from 3) and winning by an average margin of +14.9. Eight of the team's nine rotation players are shooting at least .419 during the stretch. Defensively, BU is allowing just 56.2 points per game, including holding three 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 15.4 points per game. She is also among the league leaders in rebounding (5th, 7.9), steals (5th, 2.1) 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 had a pair of double-doubles last week and has seven on the season. Thornton is averaging 15.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks while shooting .600 over the last four games.

5. Butler In The National Rankings: The Bulldogs' stellar season has earned them several mentions in the NCAA Division I top 50 statistical rankings. In the latest NCAA rankings, BU is 26th in FG percentage (44.4), 35th in turnovers per game (15.5) and 46th in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.90).

 

Butler vs. Detroit: Although Detroit owns the all-time series between the two schools, recent seasons have belonged to Butler. The Dogs have won nine in a row against Detroit, with the last loss coming in 2006. BU has won 11 of the last 12 meetings, including a 65-44 decision over the Titans on Jan. 23. Beth Couture is 12-4 vs. Detroit.

...Margin Of Victory vs. UDM: In five of the last six meetings dating back to 2007, Butler has beaten Detroit at least 10 points. The only exception was a 67-63 win over Detroit in 2008 at Butler.

First Meeting With UDM: Butler held Detroit to 25 percent shooting in the 21-point win at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Melanie Thornton had 17 points, 10 rebounds and two steals. Alyssa Pittman added 16 points and hit four 3-pointers. 

Couture Chasing Wins Record: Beth Couture has moved past June Olkowski (1993-99) for second place on Butler's all-time wins list with 121. She is just three victories shy of tying Linda Mason's (1976-84) school-record 124 wins.

Ball Control: Butler has taken good care of the ball this season, ranking in the top 40 in the country (second in the HL) with just 15.5 turnovers per game. Eight times this season, the Bulldogs have committed 14 turnovers or less. The Horizon League average is 17.8 turnovers per contest. BU is also second in the HL with a +2.6 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 each of the last 17 games, and she has scored at least nine points in each game she has played this season. The senior had a pair of 16-point, 10-rebound efforts last week. Thornton, who has seven double-doubles this season, is averaging 16.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.0 blocks in league play this season.

...Mel Moving Up List: Thornton is fifth in BU history with 112 blocked shots and needs 27 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.

...And She's Scoring More: Claire Freeman is averaging 6.8 points per game over the last eight games.

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 7-1 and shooting .485 from the floor since the switch. Chloe Hamilton has made the biggest improvement over that span, averaging 10.1 points on .611 shooting.

Sharpshooters: As a team, Butler charts second in the HL and top 30 in the country with a .444 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 last Thursday. BU shot .462 against Detroit on Jan. 23.

Sharpest Shooter: Brittany Bowen, who is second on the team in scoring (11.9), ranks among the league leaders in FT shooting (.797, 7th) and 3FG percentage (.409, 4th). Bowen has scored 15 points or more nine times this season, including a 15-point effort on 5-for-6 shooting vs. CSU last Saturday.

Depending On Defense: Butler's defense has been the primary factor in whether BU wins or not. In 16 Butler victories, the Bulldogs are holding opponents to 53.9 points and .359 field goal shooting. In seven BU losses, the team is giving up 77.9 points per game and allowing 48 percent shooting. In Butler's win over Detroit on Jan. 23, the Bulldogs held the Penguins to 44 points on .255 shooting.

Chloe Solid At The ‘4': Chloe Hamilton, who has started all 23 games this season, scored 23 points on 9-for-14 shooting in two games last weekend. The junior tied her career high with 16 points at Green Bay on Jan. 28 and 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. 

Just Make Shots: Sometimes basketball is simple: just make shots. Butler is 15-0 when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. The Dogs are 1-7 when the other team shoots better. 

Pitt Heating Up: Alyssa Pittman, who has made 199 career 3-pointers, is giving Butler the scoring the team has been looking for lately. The junior, who hit three straight 3s in the final minutes of BU's win at UWM, hit both of her long-range shots vs. YSU and hit 2-for-5 vs. CSU. Pittman is BU's second leading scorer in league play (9.7 ppg) and has hit 8 of her last 14 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 1,175 points. She is now sixth all-time with 726 rebounds and fifth in both 3-pointers made (131) and attempted (389).

That's Offensive: BU is second in the Horizon League in scoring with 69.6 points per game. The Bulldogs have scored at least 70 points in a game 10 times this season (compared to Detroit's 6 times), including three efforts with 81 or more.

‘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. Burns, who also had 12 points against the Vikings, has 35 assists against just 12 turnovers over the last eight games.

Here's A Stat To Watch: Butler leads the Horizon League in 3-point field goal defense (.297) and is third in that statistic in league play. Detroit, led by league leader Brigid Mulroy (.507), is a very good 3-point shooting team and ranks third (.352) from beyond the arc. Butler's ability to identify and "get out" on the Titan shooters will be a key on Thursday. 

X-Factor: In the first meeting vs. Detroit, Chloe Hamilton found herself in foul trouble and managed just four points in 18 minutes. Since that game, Hamilton is averaging 9.8 points and 4.8 rebounds with a .633 field goal percentage. As teams' attention moves to Melanie Thornton, Hamilton can find opportunities to score.