March 12, 2011

TITLE TILT: #2 Butler at #1 Green Bay

2010-11 Butler Women's Basketball

Horizon League Championship
#2 Butler (20-12) at #1 Green Bay (31-1)
Sunday, March 13 - 1 p.m. ET
Green Bay, Wis. - Kress Center
TV: ESPNU (Jim Barbar & Roz Gold-Onwude)
Live Stats  |   Live Video   |   Game Notes
 

Butler, Green Bay Clash In League Title Game

A berth in the 2011 NCAA Tournament is on the line Sunday when Butler takes on #13/11 Green Bay in the Horizon League Championship title game. The Bulldogs, the No. 2 seed, have defeated Detroit and Cleveland State on their way to the final. League champ Green Bay enters on a 22-game winning streak.

The Starting 5 - Butler’s Top Storylines 

1. Title Tilt: Butler is making its second consecutive appearance in the league championship game, the first time the Bulldogs have made it to the final two years in a row. Butler, which has been the No. 2 seed in each of the past three seasons, lost to Cleveland State in the 2010 championship game, 66-57. BU is 1-6 all-time in the league championship game.

2. Postseason Again: By finishing second in the regular season, Butler has clinched a berth into postseason play for the third consecutive year. The league’s best team that doesn’t make the NCAA Tournament gets an automatic bid into the WNIT. The Bulldogs have played in the WNIT the past two years, advancing to the second round in 2009.

3. League Honors: Three Bulldogs - all seniors - brought home league awards for their play this season. Brittany Bowen and Chloe Hamilton were selected second team All-Horizon League this season, and Alyssa Pittman was voted as the Horizon League Sixth Player of the Year. Bowen, who was a preseason all-league pick the last two years, leads BU with 15.5 points per game. Hamilton scores 14.2 points and grabs a team-high 6.7 rebounds per game. Pittman, who came off the bench 23 times during the regular season, averages 11.8 points per game.

4. Chloe 5th In The Nation: Chloe Hamilton enters Sunday’s final ranked fifth in the country in field goal shooting at .595. The 5-10 senior is one of only seven Division I players shooting .590 or better. Hamilton’s field goal percentage also leads the Horizon League and her .602 mark in league-only games is also first in the conference. 

5. A 4th Straight 20: Butler’s 68-54 victory over Cleveland State gave the Bulldogs 20 wins for the fourth season in a row. That is a first for BU as a Division I program, and the second time in school history. The Bulldogs had four 20-win seasons in a row from 1978-82. This group went 20-10 in 2007-08 and followed that with a 20-12 season in 2008-09. Last year’s mark of 23-10 was the team’s most wins since the 1997-98 Bulldogs went 25-6 under June Olkowski. 

 

Butler-Green Bay Series: Green Bay has controlled the series with Butler, leading 36-7 all-time. The Phoenix have won 30 straight against the Bulldogs, dating back to 1999.

...Last Time vs. Green Bay: This season’s two Butler-Green Bay meetings were quite different. On Jan. 27 at Hinkle Fieldhouse, Chloe Hamilton shot 11 for 11 from the floor for 26 points but Green Bay escaped a Butler comeback, 66-62. BU trailed 33-16 at the half but cut the deficit to 44-40 with 10:25 left. Butler forced 25 Green Bay turnovers. In the Feb. 26 meeting in Green Bay, the Phoenix went on a 10-0 run right before halftime to break the game open. The Phoenix shot .642 on the way to a 93-57 win.

Closer Than Anyone: Only two other teams on Green Bay’s schedule have played the Phoenix as well as Butler did on Jan. 27. Like Butler, Minnesota also lost to Green Bay by 4 (79-75) and Marquette was the only team so far to defeat the Phoenix. Of BU’s 30 losses to Green Bay, the 66-62 final on Jan. 27 was the smallest margin of defeat.  

2010 Final: After Cleveland State upset Green Bay in last year’s semifinal, the No. 4 seed Vikings got the best of Butler, 66-57, in last year’s league title game. CSU led 43-28 with 13:11 remaining but BU answered to pull within 61-57 and had the ball. Butler couldn’t knock down the big shot and Cleveland State went on to win. Alyssa Pittman led Butler with 18 points in the loss. 

Tourney vs. Green Bay: The Bulldogs are 1-7 all-time vs. the Phoenix in conference tournament games. BU’s one win came in the MCC final at Green Bay in 1996. That led to Butler’s lone NCAA appearance in school history.

80+ Wins For 2011 Class: Butler’s group of five seniors (Alyssa Pittman was a transfer) has been one of the most successful classes in school history. Azjah Bass, Brittany Bowen, Terra Burns, Chloe Hamilton and Pittman enter Sunday’s game with 83 wins, fourth most in school history. This senior class is 83-44 over the last four years, and 43-22 since Alyssa Pittman became eligible after transferring to Butler.

Butler vs. Ranked Teams: BU is 2-18 all-time vs. ranked opponents, including an 0-3 mark vs. Green Bay. Butler’s last win against a ranked opponent came in 1998 vs. Oregon at a mid-season tournament at Kansas. 

Getting Defensive: Butler entered Friday’s game vs. Cleveland State after posting its two best defensive efforts of the season. The Bulldogs continued that trend, holding CSU to 54 points and 36 percent shooting.  BU held Valpo to 47 points and .264 shooting on March 5 and Detroit managed just 38 points and .245 shooting in the quarterfinal on Wednesday. Over the last three games, Butler is holding opponents to 46.3 points and .293 shooting (.179 from 3-point range).

Bowen Scores 1400: Brittany Bowen’s 13 points vs. CSU brought her to 1,413 for her Butler career. Bowen, who is sixth on BU’s all-time scoring list, is one of six players to score 1,400 points at Butler. Bowen and Alyssa Pittman (1,383 points) make Butler one of just two Horizon League schools with two active 1,300-point scorers. Green Bay is the other.

More On Bowen Scoring: Brittany Bowen, the team’s leading scorer with 15.3 points a game, ranks sixth in the league in scoring. In addition to having a pair of 30-point games (vs. Indiana State and at Cleveland State), the 5-10 senior has 26 outings with 12 points or more this season. She has also scored 19 points or more eight times. Prior to this season, she posted two 25-point performances. 

Senior Surge: Seven games ago, Beth Couture decided to juggle the starting lineup and the change paid off. Butler is 5-2 since Couture moved Alyssa Pittman and Azjah Bass permanently into the starting lineup. Over the last seven games, the Bulldogs have been carried by the scoring of Pittman, Chloe Hamilton and Brittany Bowen. Pittman and Hamilton are averaging 14.3 points over the last seven contests, with Bowen adding 14.1 points. The three have combined to score 65 percent of BU’s points while shooting .815 at the foul line. 

Sharpshooter: Bowen, one of the league’s leading scorers, is also one of the most efficient scorers in the league. The Columbus, Ind., native stands third in the Horizon League in free throw percentage (.864), third in 3-point percentage (.397) and ninth in field goal percentage (.463). Historically, she currently appears on Butler’s all-time list for free throw percentage (3rd) and 3-point percentage (5th).

Chloe’s Sweet 16: Chloe Hamilton had a stretch earlier this season where she converted on 16 straight field goal attempts over a span of three games. The bulk of her impressive streak came in an 11-for-11 performance against Green Bay on Jan. 27. She hit her last shot at UIC on Jan. 22 and followed that with 11 in a row vs. Green Bay. She hit her first four shots against Milwaukee on Jan. 29 before missing. 

Azjah Makes Her Point: After providing a much-needed spark off the bench for most of the season, Azjah Bass has climbed into the starting lineup at point guard. The senior point guard has had some of her best games since taking over the starting spot. The 5-7 senior also has a 1.48:1 assist-to-turnover ratio over the last 11 contests. Bass has started 14 games this season.  

Players Of The Week: Brittany Bowen and Chloe Hamilton have each been tabbed Horizon League Player of the Week this season. Hamilton garnered the honor on Jan. 24 for her efforts at Loyola and UIC, when she averaged 21.5 points in a pair of BU wins. Bowen was selected as player of the week on Jan. 10 after averaging 19.0 points per game in road wins at Wright State and Detroit. 

400: Butler’s win against Milwaukee on Jan. 29 was victory No. 400 for Beth Couture. The 9th-year Bulldog coach now owns 406 career wins, including 148 at Butler. Couture has the most women’s basketball wins in Butler history. Only 48 other active NCAA coaches have 400 career victories.

Couture’s Cause: When not patrolling the Butler sideline, Beth Couture has spent her time in the battle against breast cancer. Couture, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 2009, rushed through treatments to make it on the sidelines for the start of the 2009-10 season. Couture has been cancer-free for more than a year and has participated in several awareness events. She walked 38 miles over a two-day span for St. Vincent’s Weekend To End Breast Cancer during the fall. She is also the honorary chairwoman for 2011 St. Vincent Woman of Hope, a breast cancer awareness group. Each Woman of Hope participant pledges to raise or give $1,000 annually for the cancer cause of her choice. 

100 Starts For Bowen: Butler’s Feb. 19 game vs. Loyola was the 100th career start for Brittany Bowen at Butler. After 105 starts, the Bulldogs are now 68-37 in games in which Bowen takes the floor first. 

Injury Bug: Butler placing second in the Horizon League this season has been amazing when you consider how hard the Bulldogs were hit by injuries. BU is without two players who started the first half of the year in senior point guard Terra Burns (8.5 ppg, 4.8 apg) and freshman center Sarah Hamm (7.0 ppg). Burns was injured and knocked out for the year at Notre Dame, while Hamm suffered an ACL tear in her right knee against Valparaiso and is also out for the season. 

...And Injuries Caused Many Starting Lineups: Perhaps due to losing two starters to injury during the first half of the season, Butler has used 13 different starting lineups in 32 games this season. Beth Couture has started six groups one time each and two other starting units have been used twice. 

Pittman’s Production: Alyssa Pittman, who was named sixth player of the year by the Horizon League, is capable of scoring in bunches. The 5-9 senior has four games with 18 points or more in the last seven contests. Pittman scored 23 in a win over UIC, had 25 at Milwaukee on Feb. 24 at Milwaukee and she scored 22 in Friday night’s semifinal.

More On 34: Chloe Hamilton’s 34-point outburst at Youngstown State was one for the ages. Not only was it three points short of the school single-game record, but it was the highest output by a Butler player since 2001 when Sarah Bolten tied the school record with 37 points. Three players - UWM’s Courtney Lindfors, WSU’s LaShawna Thomas and YSU’s Brandi Brown  - have scored 35 in a game this season.

Small Ball: The Bulldogs admittedly aren’t the tallest team in the country, but a mix of pushing the ball in transition and switching defenses has made playing a small effective this season. Butler’s starting five includes no player taller than 5-10. BU sometimes will end up with five guards on the floor, putting 5-10 Brittany Bowen in the post with four other perimeter players around her. Of BU’s nine players who play double-digit minutes, only three are taller than 5-9. Only one (6-1 Becca Bornhorst) is taller than 5-10.

2 For 30: Chloe Hamilton and Brittany Bowen have combined to do something that has happened just one other time in Butler women’s basketball history. The senior duo has combined for three 30-point scoring performances this season. Bowen dropped 30 vs. Indiana State and 31 against Cleveland State. Hamilton had 34 points at Youngstown State. The only other time the Bulldogs have had three 30-point performances in the same season was 1990, when Julie VonDielingen had two and Nikki Anderson had one.

Simple...Just Make Shots: Sometimes the difference between winning and losing is simple. In its 20 victories, Butler is shooting .456 from the floor and scoring 71.7 points per game. In 12 losses, BU is shooting .362 and scoring 61.1 points per game. Butler is 17-0 when shooting a better percentage than its opponent and 2-12 when shooting worse. 

Bulldogs Nationally: In addition to Chloe Hamilton ranking fifth in the country in field goal percentage, Brittany Bowen can be found in the most recent NCAA stats. Bowen ranks 24th in the nation in free throw percentage (.864) and 90th in field goal percentage (.464). As a team, the Bulldogs are 39th in assists, 40th in free throw shooting, 48th in assist-to-turnover ratio, 70th in field goal shooting and 84th in scoring. 

Up Next: A Butler win would place the Bulldogs in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship for the second time in school history. BU has clinched, at the least, the Horizon League’s automatic bid into the WNIT.