2009 Butler Women's Basketball
Butler (2-1) vs. Syracuse (4-0)
Friday, November 27, 2009 - 8:15 p.m. ET
Cancun, Mexico - Cuchio Baxal Gymnasio
Bulldogs Travel To Mexico For Thanksgiving
Butler basketball will go international over Thanksgiving weekend, as the BU women's team will travel to Cancun, Mexico, for a pair of games in the Cancun Thanksgiving Classic. The Bulldogs open holiday play against Syracuse Friday, Nov. 27 at 8:15 p.m. ET. They will then play Northern Iowa the next evening at 6 p.m. ET.
The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. Dogs Coming Off Historic Season: Butler is in its 35th season of varsity women's basketball with the momentum of a program on the rise. The Bulldogs 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.
2. 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 treaments, Couture is back on the sideline for her 8th season at Butler. Couture's last treatment came just before the season opener at Kentucky.
3. Perhaps This Is The Best Trip Of All: 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.
4. Bulldogs Having No Problem Shooting: Although the season is only three games old, Butler has recorded a high shooting percentage. The Dogs are shooting 44.9% from the field and 72.1% from the free throw line. BU has shot at least 40% in each of the three games, including a season-best 24-for-46 (52.2%) mark last Saturday at Saint Louis.
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 three games. Lester, named first team preseason All-Horizon League, is averaging 16.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. She had a season-high 18 points at Saint Louis and a double-double (16 pts-14 rebs) vs. IPFW. Bowen was the team's leading scorer against Kenucky and IPFW and is averaging 14.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest.
Meeting For The First Time: Butler and Syracuse are meeting in women's basketball for the first time. In fact, the Bulldogs have never played an opponent from the state of New York. BU is 17-37 all-time against current members of the Big East, including a 6-19 mark vs. Notre Dame, a former conference opponent of Butler's in the MCC (now known as the Horizon League).
First Time Outside The U.S.: This weekend's event in Cancun will be the first time in program history Butler women's basketball has played a regular season contest on international soil.
She's No Lazy Susan: Susan Lester has shaken off an offseason injury to lead Butler with 16.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. After scoring 14 in the season opener at Kentucky, Lester went for a double-double vs. IPFW (16 pts-14 rebs) and a season-high 18 points at SLU.
Pittman Gives BU A Spark: After starting the season's first two games, Alyssa Pittman came off the bench for 13 points and six rebounds at SLU last weekend. Pittman's 3-pointer with 6:17 remaining gave BU a 54-51 lead and the Bulldogs never trailed again.
Big, Tall Dogs: Although by just a fraction of an inch, this year's Butler team 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 Bowen: Brittany Bowen was BU's high scorer in each of the season's first two games, racking up 16 at Kentucky and 17 vs. IPFW. The Columbus, Ind., native added 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting at Saint Louis. Dating back to last season, Bowen has scored in double figures in 11 of Butler's last 12 games.
More On Pittman: Alyssa Pittman, the 2007 MAC Freshman of the Year at Eastern Michigan, averaged 12.3 points per game in two seasons at EMU. In her first two seasons, she made 152 career 3-pointers, which would be 4th in Butler history.
Make Them, They're Free: Butler is 33-for-43 (.767) at the free throw line the past two games, converting on 17 of 23 tries (.739) vs. IPFW and 16 of 20 (.800) at Saint Louis. That is a marked improvement from the start of the season when Butler missed 16 free throws in its exhibition against DePauw, and then made just 11 of 18 freebies vs. Kentucky.
Burns Raising Her Game: Terra Burns has been playing at a high level at the point guard position. The junior scored 12 points in 14 minutes at Kentucky and is averaging 8.5 points and 5.0 assists over the last two games.
Devin Gets The Start: Devin Brierly scored eight points, handled full-court pressure and defended well while playing 25 minutes vs. IPFW. Her trey against the Mastodons with 5:25 remaining gave Butler an 8-point lead and the Bulldogs never trailed again. For her efforts, she was given the starting nod at SLU.