Butler Closes 2009 Against Ball State
2009-10 Butler Women's Basketball
Butler (6-4) vs. Ball State (5-6)
Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - 7 p.m. ET
Indianapolis, Ind. - Hinkle Fieldhouse
Bulldogs Close 2009 Against Ball State
The Butler women's basketball team will close the 2009 calendar year with a home game against defending MAC champion Ball State Wednesday, Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. Butler is 6-4 and has won four of its last five games. The contest vs. the Cardinals is BU's final non-conference game.
The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. Bulldogs Now 4-1 In December: Butler had its four-game win streak snapped at Dayton. The Dogs trailed by 12 at the half before rallying and losing 84-81 in double-overtime. BU, 4-1 this month, opened December with a 77-41 win over Evansville and then went on to defeat Miami (Ohio) (68-60), Indiana State (67-60) and Cincinnati (65-48). 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 marked the third time the Dogs had won four straight non-conference games under Beth Couture.
2. Pitt Finally Goes Off: It was only a matter of time before Alyssa Pittman lit up the scoreboard. The instant-offense Pittman scored 23 points and made seven 3-pointers at Dayton. She scored 20 points in the second half.
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. Bowen Leading The Team: Junior Brittany Bowen, last season's leading scorer, has once again emerged as a go-to option on offense. Bowen is averaging a team-best 14.3 points per game while shooting .537 from the floor and .419 from 3-point range. The Columbus, Ind., native has led BU in scoring five times this season, including a 25-point effort at Cincinnati.
5. Winning Despite Injuries: Butler's four-game winning streak is more impressive when you consider it's been done despite the Bulldogs being hit with injuries. Senior All-Horizon League forward Susan Lester injured her foot and missed two games before being used sparingly the last few games. Sophomore Devin Brierly, a key sub who has also started four games this season, injured her ankle at Indiana State.
Another Look At Dayton: Butler's double-overtime loss at Dayton was one of the team's best performances of the season. The Bulldogs were down by 12 at halftime, but made a barrage of 3-pointers and forced 25 Flyer turnovers to force overtime. BU trailed by five late in the first overtime but went on a 7-2 run to send the game into a second OT period. Butler led 81-79 with 55 seconds left but Dayton scored the last five points of the game to eke out the win.
Other HL Teams Vs. Dayton: Three other Horizon League teams (UIC, Milwaukee, Wright State) have played Dayton this season. UD beat each of those teams by at least 21 points with an average margin of victory of 27.3.
More On Bowen: Brittany Bowen has been BU's top scorer five times this season. She tied her career high with 25 points at Cincinnati and has posted team highs vs. Kentucky (16), IPFW (17), Evansville (19), Miami (Ohio) (18). Against MU, 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).
Home Cooking: Butler is 3-0 at home this season, with wins against IPFW, Evansville and Miami. BU is 8-2 in non-conference home games over the last three seasons.
Party Like Its 2009: Entering its final game of 2009, Butler is 20-10 this calendar year. It has been the team's best year since going 21-8 in 2007.
Pitt Heating Up: In Butler's first five games, Alyssa Pittman shot just 7-for-31 (.226) from beyond the arc while scoring 7.4 points. In the five games after that, the junior guard is 15-for-47 (.319) from 3-point range and averaging 12.6 points per game. Pittman made seven 3s at Dayton and four treys each against Miami and Indiana State.
Stat Sheet Stuffer: Melanie Thornton has made an impact all over the floor this season. The senior forward is averaging 12.9 points, 8.0 boards and 1.5 blocks per game. Thornton has scored at least nine points in every game this season. She is averaging 15.0 points and 10.3 rebounds over the last three games.
Make Them, They're Free: Coming into the season, head coach Beth Couture was concerned about her team's free throw shooting. The Bulldogs have been solid at the line lately, shooting 79.2 percent over the last three games.
Bowen At The FT Line: Brittany Bowen, a career .822 free throw shooter, has made 17 foul shots in a row. She is 22-for-23 dating back to November 21 at Saint Louis.
BU Vs. The Cardinals: After not playing Ball State last year, Butler and BSU are renewing the in-state rivalry. BU beat the Cards seven times in a row during the 1980s and 90s but BSU has won three of the last four meetings. Butler did claim the last game two years ago, 66-49, behind 25 points from Susan Lester.
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 6.7 points and 5.0 rebounds while playing 25.3 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.
Pittman Vs. Ball State: No current Bulldog player has more experience playing against Ball State than Alyssa Pittman. She faced the Cardinals four times during her two years at Eastern Michigan, averaging 12 points in those games. She had 16 points against the Cardinals her freshman year and had 14 points against them twice.
Just Make Shots: Sometimes basketball is simple: just make shots. Butler is 6-0 when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. The Dogs are 0-4 when the other team shoots better.
Defending Well In First Half: Butler has played its best defense in the first half of games this season. Opponents average just 28.4 points in the first half this season. BU has held five opponents to less than 25 points in the first half: IPFW (21 points), Northern Iowa (16) and Evansville (20), Miami (24) and ISU (23).
Everyone Hits The Boards: In Butler's 10 games, the Dogs have been led in rebounds by five different players. Melanie Thornton has the the team in boards four times, while Susan Lester, Becca Bornhorst and Brittany Bowen have each been the top rebounder twice.
Freshmen Duo: Becca Bornhorst and Claire Freeman have been key contributors during their first semester at Butler. Bornhorst is averaging 5.1 points and owns three double-figure scoring outings. Freeman, who won four state championships in high school, started at Dayton and had nine points in BU's come-from-behind win at Cincinnati.
Here's A Stat To Watch: If the first third of the season is any indicator, a key to Wednesday's game will be turnover margin. Butler is second in the Horizon League with a +3.0 turnover margin while Ball State is -5.9. BSU averages five more turnovers per game than Butler.
X-Factor: Terra Burns is coming off one of her best games, scoring 15 points with eight assists and five rebounds at Dayton. She has also often had to guard the other team's best perimeter player and is among the team leaders in steals and blocks. The junior point guard has been steady during Butler's misfortune with injuries.