March 19, 2014

Butler at South Dakota State – WNIT First Round Preview

Game Notes

Twitter - @ButlerWBB

INDIANAPOLIS—The Butler women's basketball team will face the South Dakota State Jackrabbits for the first time in program history when the two teams clash in the opening round of the 2014 Postseason WNIT. The Bulldogs will play at South Dakota State on Thursday, March 20. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. EST.

Gameday Information
Date: Thursday, March 20, 2014 / 8:00 PM
Location: Brookings, S.D. / Frost Arena (6,500)
Live Stats: GoJacks.com
Series History: The all-time series is tied 0-0
Last Meeting: This is the first meeting between Butler and South Dakota State

Scouting South Dakota State (22-9, 13-1 Summit League)
The Jackrabbits entered the Summit League Tournament as the top seed with a 13-1 conference record that was included in an impressive 22-9 overall record. SDSU played two BIG EAST teams during the regular season, taking a 68-63 loss at Creighton and an 86-80 win over Georgetown in the following game. The battle-tested Jackrabbits faced nationally ranked teams in Stanford, Penn State and Notre Dame. Stanford and Notre Dame easily defeated the Jacks, but the Nittany Lions did not as SDSU walked away with an 83-79 victory. 

Megan Waytashek and Steph Paluch each average a double figure scoring total for the Jackrabbits. 2013-14 Summit League Coach of the Year, Aaron Johnston, uses the entire roster as 11 of the 13 active player's average double figures in minutes played. Front Arena will be rocking on Thursday as the Jackrabbits average 1,800 fans per home event.

Last Time Out
Butler was eliminated from the BIG EAST Tournament with a 61-52 loss to Creighton in the quarterfinals. Four players scored in double figures for Creighton. Sarah Nelson scored 21 points while MC McGrory added 12 for the Bluejays. McKenzie Fujan and sophomore guard Marissa Janning, the BIG EAST Player of the Year, each had 10 points. Janning was held scoreless until the 8:11 mark in the second half when she connected on a pair of free throws.

Daress McClung scored a game-high 25 points for Butler on 10-of-17 shooting. The senior added four rebounds, two steals and a block in 25 minutes of playing time. McClung scored the first seven points of the game for BU, but she was sent to the sideline early in the game after picking up her second personal foul. No other Bulldog reached a double figure scoring total, yet the Bulldogs stayed in the game by shooting 42 percent from the field.

Creighton led 21-20 at halftime in a low scoring first half, after a buzzer beater by MC McGrory. Butler returned to the floor to claim a 27-26 lead on Lexus Murry's  layup with 16:40 to play, but Creighton went ahead for good 42 seconds later on Nelsons 3-pointer. The Bluejays steadily extended the advantage and the Bulldogs never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.

All-Time Series
This is the first-ever meeting between Butler and South Dakota State.

Bulldog Bits                                                                                                                       
- Liz Stratman was named BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year
- Daress McClung was named Second Team All-BIG EAST
- Megan Waytashek was named First Team All-Summit League
- Steph Paluch was named Second Team All-Summit League
- Kerri Young earned Summit League Sixth Woman of the Year honors
- The Drexel Dragons won the 2013 WNIT Championship
- Stratman leads the BIG EAST with 73 blocked shots (2.6 per game)
- Stratman is tied for 3rd all-time at Butler for most blocked shots in a season (73)
- Mandy McDivitt moved to 3rd all-time at Butler with 170 career 3-point field goals

Butler WNIT History
Butler is playing in the Postseason WNIT for the sixth time in program history. Their first trip to the tournament came back during the 1997-98 season where they picked up a first round win at Bowling Green 95-90 before falling to Louisiana State on the road 74-58.

The team has been very active in the WNIT in recent years having made the postseason tournament in five of the last six seasons. Butler defeated Duquesne in the 2009 WNIT 59-58 before losing at Marquette 58-49. The 2010 WNIT featured Butler hosting Illinois State where the Redbirds closed out the Bulldogs season with a 57-54 win. In 2011, Butler fell 68-48 at Wisconsin and in their most recent trip, Butler lost 63-49 at Toledo.

BIG EAST Programs in the 64-Team Field
The BIG EAST is well represented in the WNIT with five teams making the 64-team field. Creighton, Villanova and Seton Hall will all host games while Butler and Marquette will play as the visitors.

One story line to keep an eye on would be if Butler and Creighton each won their first round game. The two teams would then face off for the fourth time this season. Butler swept the regular season series, but the Bluejays came up with a clutch tournament win. Creighton hosts Missouri on Thursday, March 20.

3 Years... 3 Conferences
The Butler Bulldogs were part of the Horizon League for 11 years before making the switch to the Atlantic 10 in 2012-13. The conference change to the A-10 was only the beginning as Butler joined the BIG EAST conference at the start of the 2013-14 season.

Stratman Named BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year
Liz Stratman leads the BIG EAST with 73 blocked shots, a total that moved her into a tie for third-place all-time at Butler for most blocks in a single-season. Her  2.6 blocked shots per game during the regular season landed her 21st in the NCAA. She has blocked two or more shots in 18 of Butler's 30 games this season.

Stratman recorded a career-high eight blocked shots in a road game at Seton Hall this season which moved her into a tie for third at Butler for most blocked shots recorded in a single-game.

Stratman Named All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention
A well-rounded game allowed Stratman to be named one of just three BIG EAST players to make the honorable mention all-conference team. Stratman is the second leading scorer on the team, averaging 13.0 points per game. She is also one of the top rebounders on the squad as she pulls down 6.6 boards per game.

Stratman scored a career-high 28 points at Seton Hall on March 1. She added 12 rebounds and four blocked shots to lead Butler to a 74-72 victory. The junior has scored 20 points or more in five games this season and eclipsed 10 rebounds or more on seven occasions. She ended the regular season with five double-doubles, four of which came against BIG EAST opponents.

Twitter Updates
Follow the Butler Women's Basketball Team on Twitter @ButlerWBB

McClung Tabbed Second Team All-BIG EAST
McClung leads the team in scoring (15.8) and is tied for the team lead in rebounds (6.6). She heads into the WNIT ranked second on the team with a 47.8 field goal percentage, second on the squad in blocked shots (29), and third on the team in steals (35). The senior has six double-double performances to her credit, with two coming against BIG EAST foes.

McClung reached double figure scoring totals in 22 of her 25 games played. She eclipsed 20 points or more seven times including a season-high 25 point outbreak against Creighton in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Tournament. McClung was the only player to reach double figures as she knocked down 10 of her 17 attempts, two of which came from long distance. Additional season-high marks for McClung includes 12 rebounds vs. UIC, five assists vs. Seton Hall, four blocked shots vs. St. John's and six steals vs. Seton Hall.

The versatile McClung can play guard or forward in the Butler lineup. She recorded 10 or more rebounds seven times, rejected two or more shots seven times and came up with three steals or more in five games this season.

Defense Wins Championships
Butler's defensive intensity will be a key factor in moving forward in the WNIT. Opponents shot 42 percent from the field and 35 percent from distance in 15 victories over BU scoring an average of 71.7 points. In Butler's 15 wins on the year, opponents shot just 36 percent from the floor, including 28 percent from 3-point range to average 59.5 points per game.

Couture in Conference
Since taking over the women's basketball program in the 2002-03 season, Head Coach Beth Couture has only posted one losing record during conference play. The Bulldogs went 6-23 overall in Couture's first season, posting a conference record of 3-13. From that point forward, Couture has finished above .500 on nine occasions (including this year) and at .500 two times.

McDivitt for 3!
Senior Mandy McDivitt has 170 made 3-point field goals in her career placing her third overall in the Butler women's basketball record book. McDivitt climbed into the top three after hitting four 3-point field goals at Creighton in the regular season finale. She passed Debbie Benziger who recorded 167 career 3-pointers from 1995-98. McDivitt leads the team with 57 made 3-point field goals this season. She was able to reach this plateau by hitting 25 3-point field goals as a freshman, 47 as a sophomore, and 41 as a junior.

Up Next
A win over South Dakota State would put Butler up against the winner of the Missouri at Creighton game. Round 2 action is slated for March 22-25.