2009-10 Butler Women's Basketball
Butler (5-3) vs. Cincinnati (4-4)
Sunday, December 13, 2009 - 6 p.m. ET
Cincinnati, Ohio - Fifth Third Arena
Bulldogs Take Winning Streak To Cincinnati
The Butler women's basketball team will take its three-game winning streak to Cincinnati Sunday, Dec. 13 for a 6 p.m. contest at Fifth Third Arena. The Bulldogs are now 5-3 after a 67-60 win at Indiana State Wednesday night. Sunday's game is the first meeting between the schools since 2001.
The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. Bulldogs Win Third Straight: Butler is currently riding a three-game win streak, having picked up consecutive victories over Evansville (77-41), Miami (Ohio) (68-60) and Indiana State (67-60). The 36-point win over UE was Butler's largest margin of victory since 1999. The Bulldogs held double-digit leads in the second half against both MU and ISU before holding off late rallies. It marks the third time the Dogs have won three straight non-conference games under Beth Couture.
2. 2008-09 A Historic Season: Butler, in its 35th season of varsity women's basketball, went 20-12 last season and advanced to the second round of the WNIT. It was Butler's first postseason berth since the 1998 team also went to the WNIT. Additionally, the Bulldogs have won 20 games in each of the last two seasons. The last consecutive 20-win seasons for BU was 1994-95 and 1995-96.
3. Coach Couture's Battle: BU head coach Beth Couture successfully battled breast cancer during the offseason. 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. Long Shots Starting To Fall: Butler has been hitting the 3-ball as of late, knocking down 23 treys during the last three games. BU shot 8-for-19 against Evansville and 7-for-18 vs. Miami. The Dogs' 8-for-27 mark at Indiana State doesn't look great, but the Bulldogs built an early lead by making five treys in the first 10 minutes against the Sycamores.
5. Lester, Bowen Leading The Team: Susan Lester and Brittany Bowen each garnered preseason All-Horizon League honors, and they have been the team's leaders through six games. Lester, a preseason first-team all-conference pick and an all-tournament player in Cancun, is averaging 11.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. She had a season-high 18 points at Saint Louis and a double-double (16 pts-14 rebs) vs. IPFW. Bowen, a preseason second-team honoree, is leading the team with 13.3 points per game. She had 19 points vs. Evansville and a double-double (18 pts-10 rebs) against Miami (Ohio).
Let's Duplicate 2007: The last time Butler won three straight non-conference games, it was part of a seven-game win streak in 2007. Similarly to this season, the third win of that 2007 streak was a victory over Indiana State. The early-season wins helped BU get off to a 10-1 start en route to a 20-10 record.
Bowen The Top Scorer: Brittany Bowen is BU's top scorer this season, averaging 13.3 points per game. She racked up 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting vs. Evansville and followed that with an 18-point outing against Miami (Ohio). Bowen, who was Butler's leading scorer last season, has scored in double figures in 13 of the last 16 games dating back to last season.
Better Off The Bench?: Butler's usual starting guards have posted their best performances in games coming off the bench. Alyssa Pittman has started four games this season, but she is averaging 12.8 points and has made 12 3-pointers in games off the bench. Brittany Bowen also had her best performances when coming off the bench, averaging 18.5 points in wins over Evansville and Miami (Ohio).
Pitt's Best Games At BU: Alyssa Pittman scored a season-high 16 points at Indiana State, just days after coming off the bench for 14 points against Miami. She made four 3-pointers in each of the two games and they are her highest point totals as a Bulldog. She also had a 13-point outing at Saint Louis.
O-H-I-O: Butler is 17-8 against teams from the state of Ohio over the last three seasons, including a 7-2 mark last season.
Making FTs in Close Games: Butler has three wins by single digits this season, and a big reason why is the Bulldogs are making free throws late in games. BU shot 46 for 59 (.780) in the second half of those three wins. At Indiana State, the Bulldogs sank 9 of 10 foul shots in the final 1:21.
Stat Sheet Stuffer: Melanie Thornton has made an impact all over the floor this season. The senior forward is averaging 12 points and 6.6 boards and 2.2 steals per game. Thornton had her best game of the season at Indiana State, going for 15 points on 7-for-10 shooting and collecting nine rebounds. Her basket with 15 minutes left at ISU put the Bulldogs ahead 45-27.
Becca ‘Born' Ready: Becca Bornhorst has been BU's best freshman. She scored a career-best 14 points and had seven rebounds vs. Evansville. In BU's last game, the Ohio native had 10 points and six boards vs. Indiana State. Bornhorst is averaging 10.3 points and 6.0 rebounds over the last three games.
What If They Had Susan?: Butler's recent win streak is even more impressive considering it was done without the services of senior leader Susan Lester. The forward has battled a foot injury in recent weeks and is averaging 11.8 points and 5.5 rebounds. The Anderson, Ind., native was named to the all-tourney team in Cancun after averaging 11.5 points and 5.5 boards in the two games. Lester went for a double-double vs. IPFW (16 pts-14 rebs) and a season-high 18 points at Saint Louis.
Couture Chasing BU Wins Record: If Butler can duplicate what it has done the past two seasons, Beth Couture will be the winningest coach in BU history this season. Couture is just 14 wins shy of Linda Mason's (1976-84) school-record 124 wins. Couture needs four victories to tie June Olkowski (1993-99) for second place.
More on Susan: With a free throw in the second half at Kentucky, Susan Lester became the 20th player in school history to reach 1,000 career points. With 1,065 points, she is 15 points shy of 16th on Butler's all-time list.
Winning Ways At Butler: The Bulldogs have recorded 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.
Hamilton Plays Solid At The 4: Chloe Hamilton, starting at the ‘4' spot this season, is having her best season as a Bulldog. She is averaging 6.9 points and 4.8 rebounds while playing 24.5 minutes per contest. The Michigan native tied her career best with 12 points vs. Evansville. Hamilton also had 10 points and five assists vs. Syracuse.
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.
More On Pittman: Alyssa Pittman, the 2007 MAC Freshman of the Year, has supplied Butler with another scoring threat after transferring from Eastern Michigan. The Elkhart, Ind., native owns four double-digit scoring outings this season. Pittman is a career .372 3-point shooter and has 168 career treys,
Long Time, No See: In her eighth season at Butler, Sunday marks Beth Couture's first time playing Cincinnati. The last meeting between the schools came in 2001, when Butler's current freshmen players were in the fifth grade.
Party Like Its 2009: Butler is 20-9 since the calendar turned to 2009, its best calendar year since going 21-8 in 2007. BU has three games remaining before 2010 strikes.
Holiday Travel: With the trip to Cancun, Butler has set a new standard for playing in exotic locations during Thanksgiving break. The bar was already set pretty high, as BU has traveled to California (2002, 2005), Florida (2003, 2007), Alaska (2006), Saint Louis (2004) and New Mexico (2008) during recent seasons.
Defending Well In First Half: Butler has played its best defense in the first half of games this season. Opponents average just 26.8 points in the first half this season. BU has held five opponents below 25 points in the first half: IPFW (21 points), Northern Iowa (16) and Evansville (20), Miami (24) and ISU (23).
Brierly Update: Devin Brierly, a sophomore guard who has started four games this season, hurt her ankle against Indiana State. She left just five minutes into the ISU game and did not return.
X-Factor: Melanie Thornton has been extremely productive in the post, either scoring or drawing fouls. She made 7 of her 10 field goals at Indiana State and got to the free throw line 16 times vs. Miami. She also has a track record of having big games against high-major opponents, recording 14 points vs. Syracuse this season and 18 points at Ohio State last year.