December 20, 2010

Bulldogs Finish Southern Swing At South Carolina

2010-11 Butler Women's Basketball

Butler (6-4) at South Carolilna (5-5)
Tuesday, Dec. 21 - 7 p.m. ET
Colonial Life Arena - Columbia, S.C.
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Bulldogs Finish Southern Swing At South Carolina

The Butler women’s basketball team, which has won three of four, will take on South Carolina Tuesday, Dec. 21 at  7 p.m. ET. The game is the second of BU’s trip through head coach Beth Couture’s home state.

The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines

1. Couture’s Coming Home: Beth Couture, who lived most of her life in South Carolina, is bringing her team to the Palmetto State for the first time since she came to Butler in 2002. Couture, who was born in Rhode Island before her family moved to South Carolina when she was young, attended Erskine College in Due West, S.C., before getting her advanced degree at Furman in 1989. She coached 13 seasons at nearby Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C., leading the team to the NCAA D-II tournament six times in a nine-year span.

2. 3 Straight 20s: Butler has won 20 games in each of the past three seasons, the first time the team has achieved that as a Division I program. The Bulldogs 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 has gone 63-32 during the last three seasons. 

3. Back-To-Back WNIT Berths: The Bulldogs have played in the postseason in each of the past two seasons, earning the Horizon League’s automatic berth into the WNIT twice. In 2009, BU won 20 games and advanced to the WNIT second round, defeating Duquesne and losing to Marquette. Last season, Butler won 23 games before falling 57-54 at Illinois State in the first round.

4. That Just Happened: It’s hard to explain Butler’s wild 105-98 double-overtime win at Ball State last Sunday. The Bulldogs trailed by 14 in the second half before outscoring BSU 32-18 over a span of 10:36. Ball State made what appeared to be a game-winning buzzer beater but it was ruled the shot wasn’t off in time. Butler would need a late bucket in the first OT to extend the game another period before fending off the Cardinals. Six Bulldogs scored in double figures, and four fouled out.  

5. Bowen Among The League Leaders: Brittany Bowen, who scored a career-high 30 points in Butler’s win over Indiana State, currently stands fourth in the Horizon League with 15.1 points per game. She is among the league’s best in shooting percentage and free throw percentage.

 

Butler-South Carolina Series: Butler and South Carolina are meeting for the first time in women’s basketball. 

1,000 Point Scorers: With six points in Butler’s win over IUPUI, Brittany Bowen became the 21st player in Butler history to score 1,000 career points. The 5-10 senior reached the mark with a lay-up at the 16:05 mark of the first half. Bowen now has 1,074 points as a Bulldog. Additionally, Alyssa Pittman crossed the 1,000-point mark last season. She scored 715 points in her two years at Eastern Michigan and now has 1,119 for her career.

Traveling: Butler’s trip to Ball State last week covered 57.7 miles, the shortest trek of the 2010-11 season. This week, the Bulldogs are on their farthest trip. BU covered 771 miles from Hinkle Fieldhouse to the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

Bowen Is Scoring: Brittany Bowen is fourth in the league averaging 15.1 points this season. In addition to scoring 30 against ISU, the 5-10 senior has two outings with 26 points this season, coming against Saint Louis and Wake Forest. She also has posted two 25-point performances prior to this season.

Couture Is No. 1: South Carolina native Beth Couture, with 134 victories at Butler, owns the most women’s basketball wins in Butler history. Couture last season passed Linda Mason (1976-84), who won 124 games. The record-breaking victory came at UIC on March 4 of last season.

...Couture’s 250th: Last Sunday’s game at BSU was Beth Couture’s 250th game on the sideline for Butler. She is 134-117 in her ninth season. 

Sharpshooter: Brittany Bowen is arguably one of the best shooters in the Horizon League. She is the only player ranked among the league leaders in FG percentage (6th), 3-point percentage (2nd) and free throw percentage (3rd). Also, she’s the only player in the top 6 in field goal and free throw shooting.

...Bowen Nationally: In the most recent NCAA stats, Brittany Bowen rates 33rd in the nation in free throw percentage. She also stands 94th in the country in field goal shooting.

Chloe Solid At The ‘4’: Chloe Hamilton is having her best season, averaging 12.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. The 5-10 senior tallied a career-high 21 points Sunday vs. Coastal Carolina and has been a consistent scorer, notching double figures in seven of Butler’s nine games. Hamilton burst into the starting lineup last season, averaging 7.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game after playing sparingly her first two seasons. 

Bowen At The Free Throw Line: Brittany Bowen, a career .824 free throw shooter, made her first 23 free throw attempts before missing in the first half against ISU on Dec. 4. Bowen is now 34-for-39, ranking third in the Horizon League in free throw percentage at .872.

A Fresh Start: Butler went with a new starting lineup against Coastal Carolina, inserting young guards Jenna Cobb and Claire Freeman into the lineup. Cobb, making her first career start, had four points and four assists. The Ohio native made two key baskets in the final 24 seconds of the first half to give BU a 38-28 halftime lead against CCU. Freeman, making her 16th career start and first this season, grabbed a career-best eight rebounds.

Dawgs Eating Up Indiana: Butler has made a habit of winning in the state of Indiana. BU is 12-4 in its last 16 games against in-state opponents. The Bulldogs are 3-2 this season, with wins over IUPUI, Indiana State and Ball State. Dating back to the 2007-08 season, BU is 18-6 against Indiana schools.

Hamm Learning Quickly: Freshman center Sarah Hamm has emerged as an effective interior player. The 6-2 rookie is averaging 7.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. She has started eight games this season, scoring in double figures five times. She posted career highs with 15 points eight rebounds against Ball State. She also scored 12 against Coastal Carolina and 11 vs. Ohio Dominican and Indiana State.

Chloe Named All-Tourney: Chloe Hamilton was named to the WBCA All-Tournament Team after averaging 16.3 points and 8.0 rebounds over the three games at Notre Dame. Hamilton started the weekend with a career-best 19 points vs. Wake Forest, then she matched that output in a win over IUPUI. She finished the weekend with 11 points and eight rebounds against Notre Dame.

Life After Mel: Butler is charged with the task of replacing the 2010 Horizon League Player of the Year in Melanie Thornton. Last season, the 6-1 Thornton averaged 15.7 points and 8.8 rebounds while leading the team in steals and blocks. Thornton had at least 10 points in 25 of her last 27 games, while leading the team in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals. Thornton had 12 double-doubles and was also named Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year.

Conference Wins Record: In each of the past two seasons, Butler has set a school record with 14 league victories. The Bulldogs have posted back-to-back 14-4 conference seasons and are 49-21 (.700) in league play over the last four seasons. 

No Burns For The Bulldogs: Terra Burns, BU’s starting point guard and team co-captain, has missed the last four games with a leg injury suffered against Notre Dame. She continues to be evaluated. The 5-9 senior was averaging 8.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists before getting injured.

Bulldogs Finish Second: Butler placed second in both the Horizon League regular season and the league tournament last year. After going 14-4 and finishing one game behind champion Green Bay, BU defeated Wright State and Detroit to advance to the league tourney final. No. 4 seed Cleveland State won the league championship game. 

After Halftime, Try Again: After 10 games, it seems Beth Couture’s halftime speeches make the Bulldogs shoot better. Butler is shooting .448 from the floor after halftime, compared to just .379 in the first 20 minutes. As a result, Butler is scoring 28.6 points per game in the first half compared to 38.5 points in the second half. Butler played a poor first half against Indiana State, trailing by 13 at halftime. The Bulldogs then won the second half 52-30 against the Sycamores. BU was down at the half at Ball State before going on a late run and winning in double overtime. 

Couture’s Cause: In April 2009, Beth Couture was diagnosed with breast cancer. She finished treatments and radiation at a fast pace, just in time to return to the sideline for last season’s opener. Couture is now cancer-free and an avid supporter of breast cancer awareness. She walked 38 miles over a two-day span for St. Vincent’s Weekend To End Breast Cancer during the fall.

BU Among Mid-Majors: Butler’s success over the past three seasons has made noise nationally around mid-major women’s basketball. The Bulldogs were picked No. 22 in the first Mid-Major Top 25 poll by CollegeInsider.com. BU has since dropped out of the top 25. Green Bay, after a 10-1 start with wins over three Big Ten teams, has moved to No. 1. CSU has climbed to No. 17 in the poll. Beth Couture and Detroit’s Autumn Rademacher represent the Horizon League on the mid-major poll.

All ‘O’ Board: Playing significant minutes with a small lineup hasn’t stopped Butler from being aggressive on the offensive boards. BU is averaging a league-best 14.4 offensive rebounds a game. BU leads the conference in offensive rebounding percentage, hauling in 38.1 percent of its missed shots. Butler has grabbed at least 10 offensive rebounds in nine of 10 games this season, with two outings of 19 offensive boards. The Bulldogs rank second in the HL in rebounding margin at +2.8. Chloe Hamilton (32), Brittany Bowen (25) and Sarah Hamm (20) lead the team in offensive rebounds.

Getting The Point: Freshman point guard Jenna Cobb has been getting more playing time as a result of her playing excellent defense and her evolution as a playmaker with the basketball. She has a 13:7 assist-to-turnover ratio, which is the best on the team. Defensively, she has proven to be able to pressure opponents into turnovers. 

Here’s A Stat To Watch: South Carolina’s field goal percentage. USC shoots just .374 from the floor, the lowest season average of a Butler opponent this season. In contrast, Butler is last in the Horizon League in field goal percentage defense. Butler will need to limit easy shots and close out on shooters to force USC into a poor shooting night.

Up Next: Butler will have a week off for the holiday before returning to the court. BU hosts mid-major power Bowling Green Wednesday, Dec. 29 at Hinkle Fieldhouse. That is the last game of the 2010 calendar year.