Jan. 6, 2006
THE TIP: Butler (6-6) returns to Horizon League action Saturday against UIC (5-8), looking to improve on its 2-0 league mark. The Bulldogs have won four of their last five games, including three straight contests in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Free video and audio of the 2 p.m. tip is available live at both www.butlersports.com and www.horizonleague.com.
THE SERIES: This is the 33rd meeting between the Bulldogs and UIC. Butler owns a 19-13 advantage in the all-time series, including an 11-5 edge in Indianapolis. The Flames took both regular season contests between the schools last season and then ended Butler's season in the Horizon League Tournament.
DOWNTOWN FROM DOWNTOWN: Butler made the short trip downtown to face IUPUI Wednesday and Jackie Closser spent most of the night behind the arc, hitting 5-of-10 attempts from downtown. Closser posted a game-high 19 points and continues to lead the Horizon League with an average of 3.0 three-pointers per game.
DIRTY WORK: Senior Stephanie Boeke hasn't drawn the early attention that has found her four teammates averaging double figures so far this season, but the 5-10 forward is filling up every column of the box score every night. Against IUPUI, Boeke posted a career-high six assists to lead the team and tied a personal-best with 10 rebounds. She added eight points and two steals in 37 minutes.
HELPING HAND: Junior Jackie Closser had a career-high nine assists Dec. 31 at UW-Milwaukee, bettering her previous mark of eight, which she had four times. With 234 career assists, Closser is just two shy of tenth place on Butler's list.
Closser is second in the Horizon League at 5.2 assists per game.
ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END: The Bulldogs had their four-game winning streak ended Wednesday at IUPUI, shooting just 28 percent in the 62-54 loss. During the four-game winning streak, freshman Lade Akande led the team in points (19.5 ppg), rebounds (9.0 rpg), field goal percentage (.534), free throws (16), blocks (12) and steals (11). Butler averaged 78.2 points per game and made more free throws (77) than its opponents attempted (70) during that stretch.
CLOSING OUT 2005 WITH A BANG: Freshman Lade Akande hit two free throws with five seconds remaining in overtime to give Butler an 80-79 league win at UW-Milwaukee Dec. 31. The two charity tosses capped a career-high 28 points for Akande, who added nine rebounds. Butler needed the overtime heroics after squandering an 18-point advantage with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation. The win ended an eight-game losing streak to the Panthers in Milwaukee, dating back to Jan. 11, 1997.
15-FOOT RANGE: Butler continues to lead the Horizon League in free throw shooting, posting a .746 mark. Junior Jackie Closser tops the circuit at 93 percent.
OFFENSIVE BEHAVIOR: Butler is scoring 70.3 points per game, good for second in the Horizon League. Four Butler players average double figures with Jackie Closser (15.0), Lade Akande (14.0) and Ellen Hamilton (13.2) ranking 5-6-7 in the league scoring race. Butler has topped 70 points in seven of its last nine games.
LEADING THE CIRCUIT: Jackie Closser paces the league in free throw percentage (.927), three-pointers made (3.0 per game) and assist/turnover ratio (2.04). Freshman Lade Akande leads in blocks at 1.92 swats per contest.
Boeke is averaging 7.2 rebounds per game in the team's six wins.
NATIONAL PRIDE: Not only have the Bulldogs performed well compared to other Horizon League schools, but their numbers stack up well against the nation's 324 institutions. Butler entered the week with the following NCAA marks:
Three-point percentage (4th-.417)
Three-point field goals made (7th-7.7)
Free throw percentage (23rd-.753)
Scoring offense (54th-71.8 ppg)
Free throw percentage (9th-.919)
Three-point field goals made (23rd-2.8)
Three-point percentage (10th-.492)
THREE'S COMPANY: Junior Ellen Hamilton is knocking down 48 percent of her three-point attempts, which is second in the league. Her 2.5 treys per game rank fourth in the conference. Hamilton has hit at least one three-pointer in 19 straight games dating back to last season.
HITTING THE TRI-FECTA: Butler's .402 accuracy from three-point range leads the league, while the team's average of 7.7 treys per game is second. Juniors Jackie Closser and Ellen Hamilton continue to climb toward the top spot in career three-pointers with each having more than a full season remaining.
Career three-pointers made
1. 167, Debbie Benziger (1995-98)
2. 142, Maria Marchesano (2002-05)
3. 135, Jackie Closser (2004-present)
4. 128, Ellen Hamilton (2004-present)
4. 128, Jennifer Marlow (1996-99)
LOVE THE LEAGUE: Butler's 2-0 Horizon League mark is no accident. Butler has hit 15 treys compared to only three for its two opponents and Lade Akande is averaging 22.5 points and 8.5 boards per game in league action. Jackie Closser adds 16.5 points and 6.5 assists.
QUICK SHOTS: For the second time this season and just the third time in Beth Couture's three-plus years at Butler, five Bulldogs scored in double figures against Evansville Dec. 19...Butler is 5-0 when leading at halftime and 6-0 when shooting a higher field goal percentage than the opposition...Butler shot a season-best 63 percent in the first half Dec. 29 against Youngstown State to take a 46-22 halftime lead and cruise to a 78-55 win...Butler shot 53 percent (8-15) from three-point range against Youngstown State, the fifth time this season the team has shot better than 50 percent from long range.
WE'RE GOING STREAKING: Butler has hit at least five three-pointers in all 12 games this season and in 18 of its last 19 outings dating back to last season...the Bulldogs have won six of their last seven Horizon League regular season games...freshman Lade Akande has scored in double figures in five straight games, the longest active streak on the team...Jackie Closser has started 39 of the last 40 games for Butler, missing the Miami (Ohio) game earlier this season due to injury.
AGAINST THE FLAMES: Beth Couture is 3-4 against UIC as Butler's head coach...junior Ellen Hamilton had a career-high 22 points against the Flames Feb. 19, 2005 in Hinkle Fieldhouse. That is the only time in five match-ups against UIC that she's posted double figures...senior Jessica Smart played a personal-best nine minutes against UIC Feb. 9, 2005...Jackie Closser averages a team-best 13.6 points per game against UIC, hitting 16-of-33 from three-point range in five career contests.
MILLER TIME: Butler announced that 2005 Indiana All-Star Tara Miller has joined the Butler program. Miller transfers to the Bulldogs from Indiana University. The 5-10 guard from Ramsey, Ind. (North Harrison) will have 2.5 seasons of eligibility beginning after the first semester of the 2006-07 season. She can practice with the team beginning Jan. 17, the first day of classes.
ENOUGH ABOUT THE OFFENSE: Butler clamped down on defense against Youngstown State Dec. 29 in its Horizon League opener, allowing the Penguins just 55 points. That's a season-low for a Butler opponent. Butler also limited the Penguins to opponent lows in field goals (21), field goal shooting (.318), three-pointers (one) and three-point accuracy (.071).
WORTHLESS STAT OF THE DAY: Beth Couture is 10-10 against teams from Illinois as Butler's head coach.