2009-10 Butler Women's Basketball
Butler (17-7, 10-3 HL) vs. Wright State (9-15, 5-9 HL)
Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010 - 3 p.m. ET
Dayton, Ohio - Nutter Center
Bulldogs Take Win Streak To Wright State
The Butler women's basketball team, which has won five straight, will take on Wright State Saturday, Feb. 20 at 3 p.m. at WSU's Nutter Center. BU improved to 10-3 in league play with a 72-62 win at Detroit Thursday night. The Bulldogs have won three straight against the Raiders, including a 77-61 win at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Jan. 21.
The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. Horizon League Race: At 10-3 in Horizon League play, Butler enters Saturday's game at Wright State in a three-way tie in the loss column atop the Horizon League standings. Detroit, a team Butler has beaten twice, currently holds a half-game lead at 11-3. Butler and defending league champ Green Bay are each 10-3. Butler is the only team in the league's top 3 on the road this weekend, as Detroit hosts Valparaiso and Green Bay welcomes Loyola.
2. Hot Stretch: Butler has won eight of its last nine games, including five straight. Over the last nine games, Butler is shooting .480 from the floor (.354 from 3) and winning by an average margin of +14.3. Eight of the team's nine rotation players are shooting at least .397 during the stretch. Defensively, BU is allowing just 56.9 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 15.5 points per game. She is also among the league leaders in rebounding (5th, 8.1), 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 has put up a double-double in each of the last three games and has eight on the season. Thornton is averaging 16.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks while shooting .559 over the last five 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), 38th in turnovers per game (15.5) and 45th in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.90).
Butler vs. Wright State: Butler leads the all-time series vs. WSU, 24-15, and has won four of the last six meetings against the Raiders. Beth Couture is 8-7 against Wright State.
First Meeting With WSU: Five players scored in double figures as BU beat WSU 77-61 on Jan. 21. Chloe Hamilton had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Alyssa Pittman and Brittany Bowen each scored 13 off the bench.
Couture Chasing Wins Record: Beth Couture has moved past June Olkowski (1993-99) for second place on Butler's all-time wins list with 122. She is just two 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 +2.63 turnover margin.
O-H-I-O: Butler is 23-10 against teams from the state of Ohio over the last four seasons. During that time, BU is 4-3 against Wright State, 6-3 vs. Cleveland State and 9-0 against Youngstown State.
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 18 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 and posted 17 points and 14 boards at Detroit. Thornton, who has eight double-doubles this season, is averaging 16.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.0 blocks in league play this season.
...Mel Moving Up List: Thornton is fifth in BU history with 114 blocked shots and needs 25 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 6.6 points and shooting .426 over the last nine 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 8-1 and shooting .480 from the floor since the switch.
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 on Feb. 11. BU shot .525 against Wright State on Jan. 21.
Depending On Defense: Butler's defense has been the primary factor in whether BU wins or not. In 17 Butler victories, the Bulldogs are holding opponents to 54.4 points and .362 field goal shooting. In seven BU losses, the team is giving up 77.9 points per game and allowing 48 percent shooting.
Chloe Solid At The ‘4': Chloe Hamilton, who has started all 24 games this season, scored 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting at Detroit Thursday night. The junior scored a career-best 16 points in her first career double-double vs. Wright State on Jan. 21. She also had 16 points at Green Bay on Jan. 28. Over the last nine games, Hamilton is averaging 10.6 points and shooting a blazing .629 from the floor.
Just Make Shots: Sometimes basketball is simple: just make shots. Butler is 16-0 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 202 career 3-pointers, is giving Butler the scoring the team has been looking for lately. The junior, who hit three big 3s Thursday at UDM, hit both of her long-range shots vs. YSU on Feb. 11 and hit 2-for-5 vs. CSU last Saturday. Pittman is BU's second leading scorer in league play (9.6 ppg) and has hit 11 of her last 23 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 1,183 points. She is now sixth all-time with 734 rebounds and fifth in both 3-pointers made (131) and attempted (390).
That's Offensive: BU is second in the Horizon League in scoring with 69.7 points per game. The Bulldogs have scored at least 72 points in a game nine times this season (compared to just once for Wright State), 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 on Feb. 13 and added four assists to one turnover Thursday at Detroit. Burns, who also had 12 points against the Vikings, has 39 assists against just 13 turnovers over the last nine games.
Comeback Kids: In each of BU's last two games, the Dogs have had to make a late rally to win. Butler was down 66-61 with 4:38 to go before rallying with 11 straight points for a 72-66 win. Detroit led BU 60-55 with 3:49 left before the Dogs finished the game on a 17-2 run.
Susan Being A Senior: Susan Lester has made key plays down the stretch in each of the last two games. She made two FTs with two big rebounds and a block in the final 1:55 against Cleveland State on Feb. 13. Lester had two putbacks with Butler trailing late and added another bucket with 0:33 left with BU up three to help the Bulldogs to the win.
...And Making Her FTs: Susan Lester ranks fourth in the Horizon League in free throw percentage (.830). The senior, a career .804 shooter at the line, has made 20 of her last 21 foul shots dating back to Jan. 16.
Winning Ways At Butler: At 17-7 with a minimum of six games to play, Butler has clinched its fifth straight winning season. The Bulldogs need three more victories to record their third consecutive 20-win season. 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: Wright State both commits and causes a lot of turnovers. WSU leads the Horizon League with 20.7 miscues per game. The Raiders also force 19.6 turnovers a game, the second-highest mark in the league. Butler is among the nation's top teams in taking care of the ball, with just 15.5 mistakes a game.
X-Factor: Brittany Bowen, Butler's second leading scorer, had 13 points and six rebounds and shot 5-for-6 with a pair of 3s against Wright State on Jan. 21. Bowen's size on the perimeter can also be a factor, which has some of the smallest guards in the league.