January 7, 2009

Bulldogs Hit The Road To Play Detroit On Thursday

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GAME 14
Butler (7-6, 2-0 Horizon) at Detroit (5-8, 1-1 Horizon)
Thursday, Jan. 8 - 7:00 p.m.
Calihan Hall - Detroit, Mich.

The Opening Tip: Butler will try for its fourth win in a row and the program's first 3-0 start to the Horizon League season since the 1999-2000 campaign when it heads to Detroit on Thursday (Jan. 8) for a 7:00 p.m. contest in Calihan Hall. After disposing of both Cleveland State and Youngstown State at home to open the conference slate, the Bulldogs have picked up wins in six of their last eight games.

Butler Basketball On The Web: Butler's contest against Youngstown State will feature live streaming video online at the Horizon League Network. The game can be viewed for free by clicking the "Watch on HLN" link on the calendar at www.ButlerSports.com. The contest will also feature live stats through Gametracker, which can be viewed by clicking the Gametracker link on www.ButlerSports.com.

A Look At The Bulldogs: Butler will try to continue its recent defensive dominance when it hits the road to battle Detroit on Thursday (Jan. 8). After battling through a challenging non-conference schedule that featured six teams which advanced to post-season play in 2007-08 - including nationally-ranked Ohio State - the Bulldogs have claimed convincing wins in their first two Horizon League contests, holding both Cleveland State (46 points) and Youngstown State (50) to 50 or fewer points. A duo of post players has been the driving force behind the team this season, as senior Lade Akande (13.1 points, 6.7 rebounds) and junior Melanie Thornton (12.3, 8.4) pace the team in both points and rebounds. Strong defense and effectiveness on the perimeter have been two critical elements to the team's success this year, as six of the Bulldogs' seven wins have come by holding their opponents to less than 60 points and by scoring over five three-pointers. Sophomore Brittany Bowen (8.9 points, 18 three-pointers), junior Susan Lester (6.9, 10), senior Candace Jones (4.5, 12) and freshman Devin Brierly (4.4, 12) have helped the Bulldogs average 5.8 threes in their last eight games. Sophomore Terra Burns and seniors Candyce Brown and Tara Miller have added steady offense and strong defense on the perimeter, while sophomores Azjah Bass and Chloe Hamilton provide depth off the bench.

A Look At The Titans: Detroit heads into Thursday's contest with a 5-8 overall record and a 1-1 mark in Horizon League play after picking up a win at Loyola and falling at UIC over the weekend. The Titans' biggest win of the season was their first of the year, as Detroit ousted nationally-ranked Georgia, 70-66, at Calihan Hall on Nov. 22. Junior guard Brigid Mulroy paces the squad with 12.2 points per game thanks largely to a team-high 2.4 three-pointers per contest. Senior forward Sandi Brown boasts a team-best 5.7 rebounds per contest and has added 11.3 points, while freshman guard Jalesa Jones has dished a team-high 4.0 assists per game.

The Series Against Detroit: Thursday's contest at Calihan Hall will mark the 52nd meeting between the two squads in women's basketball, with Detroit being tied with Loyola as Butler's most frequently played opponent. The series began during the 1984-85 season, but the Bulldogs did not register a win until the seventh meeting in 1987-88. After winning only six of the next 19 meetings, Butler claimed four-straight from 1997 to 1999 before dropping 11 of the next 12 match-ups - including nine in a row from 1999 to 2003. Eight of the last nine contests have gone the way of the Bulldogs, however, including the last six straight. Head coach Beth Couture is 9-4 all-time against the Titans.

The Last Time Against Detroit: Lade Akande tallied a team-high 17 points, Brittany Bowen added 10 and the Bulldogs overcame a sluggish first half on offense to pull out a 67-63 victory over visiting Detroit on Feb. 23, 2008, at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Bulldogs had to play catch up right from the beginning, as Detroit spotted itself a 10-0 lead to start the game before building up as much as a 13-point margin (21-8) with 9:13 to go in the opening period. After shooting just 30 percent (9-for-30) in the first half, Butler answered with a 50 percent (13-for-26) effort following the break to complete the comeback.

Battle-Tested: The Bulldogs will play a total of 10 games during the regular season against teams that advanced to post-season play during the 2007-08 campaign, including Cleveland State, Dayton, Evansville, Green Bay, Indiana, Miami (Ohio), Nebraska and Ohio State. The Bulldogs have won three of the seven meetings so far, topping Evansville (70-52), Miami (86-81, 2OT) and CSU (55-46).

Butler Upends YSU: Butler shot a season-high 51.7 percent from the field with all but one player scoring in the game, as the Bulldogs opened up as much as a 32-point first-half lead en route to a convincing 84-50 victory over visiting Youngstown State on Monday (Jan. 5) evening at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Lade Akande led the way with 13 points, Brittany Bowen added 12 and Candace Jones chipped in eight points and team highs with eight rebounds and five assists as the Bulldogs picked up their sixth win in their last eight contests.

You're Number Two: After notching a team-high 13 points against Youngstown State, senior center Lade Akande passed Elza Purvlicis (1981-84) for second on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,530 career points. The two players had been tied at 1,517 points entering the game against the Penguins before Akande banked in a lay-up at the 15:56 mark of the first half to move into sole possession of second. The Robinson, Ill., native will need quite a strong finish to the season to catch record-holder Julie VonDielingen (2,018), as she would need to average 30.6 points per game in the final 16 regular season games to break the mark. Akande became just the 19th player in school history to notch 1,000 points in her career early last season and quickly climbed up to seventh by the end of the year. She also became the first non-senior player to reach 1,000 points in her career since Marlow in 1997-98.

...And Making Other Lists: By pulling in 87 rebounds so far this season, Lade Akande passed both Sue Morris (657) and Liesl Schultz (658) to move into seventh-place in the career rebounding list. Akande also finds herself ranked in four other categories, including blocks (122 - 4th) and field goals made (629 - 2nd).

350 And Counting: Butler's convincing victory over Youngstown State also provided a milestone for head coach Beth Couture, who earned her 350th career coaching win between Presbyterian College and Butler. The decision also gives the seventh-year Bulldog mentor her 92nd triumph with the team, leaving her just eight wins shy of the century mark. Her 92 wins are the third-most in school history.

Marginally Impressive: Butler has had quite a knack for registering big wins this season. In fact, three of the Bulldogs' seven wins have come by margins of 30 or more points, including a dominant 43-point victory over Christian Brothers that ranks as the 15th-largest margin in school history. The 1998-99 Bulldogs were the last Butler squad to post three 30-point wins in a single season.

Get Ahead And Stay Ahead: With the win over YSU, Butler is now 7-0 on the year when heading into the locker room with a lead at halftime.

Keep It Under 60: The Bulldogs are 6-1 this season when they hold their opponent to fewer than 60 points.

In Their Defense: Butler's defense has been crucial to the team's success this season. The Bulldogs rank second in the Horizon League in scoring defense (58.9 ppg) and third in opponent field goal percentage (38.1 percent). Butler has held four foes to 50 or fewer points during the year, including a season-low 40 to Christian Brothers on Dec. 29.

Going Postal: Butler's success has been largely dictated by the play of a pair of post players, as senior Lade Akande (13.1 points, 6.7 rebounds) and junior Melanie Thornton (12.3, 8.4) have ranked as the top two scorers and rebounders on the team all season long.

Reign Of Threes: While dominant post play has become a trademark of the Bulldogs this season, their ability to score from beyond the arc has been crucial to their success. Butler boasts a 6-2 record when sinking at least five three-pointers in a game and has averaged nearly six treys in its seven victories - compared to just four in its six defeats.

Downtown Living: After struggling to just 19 three-pointers through the first five games of the season (3.8 per contest), the Bulldogs have connected for 46 in their last eight outings (5.8), including a season-high 10 at Evansville on Dec. 3. The added long-range effort helped the Bulldogs average nearly 14 points more in the last eight games than they had in the previous five (70.0 to 56.2).

Bench Dominance: A big reason for the Bulldogs' success this year has been due to the strong play of the bench. Butler has out-scored its opponents in bench scoring in all but one game this year and averages over 14 points more points per game than its foes (26.3 to 12.1). In fact, the Bulldog bench has accounted for over 40 percent of its scoring this year (342 of 841 points), while the team's leading scorer in six games has been a bench player.

Crime Prevention: Opponents have not had much luck picking the pockets of the Bulldogs in their first seven games of the year. Butler has averaged just 16.1 turnovers per game so far this season, including season-low nine at IPFW. The Bulldogs' average puts them in second place in the league standings in fewest turnovers per game, while their 0.9 assist-to-turnover ratio is also second in the conference.

...From Effective Helpers: Three Bulldog players find themselves ranked in the Horizon League's top-10 list in assist-to-turnover ratio heading into Saturday's game. Senior Candyce Brown leads the team and ranks fifth in the Horizon League with a 1.6 A/T ratio, while senior Tara Miller is sixth with a 1.5 A/T ratio. Additionally, sophomore Brittany Bowen finds herself in ninth place with a 1.3 A/T ratio. In fact, Butler is the only school with at least three players in the top-10.

Quite A Start: Through just 13 games this season, Melanie Thornton has already put together a year to remember. Her 160 points, 109 rebounds and 365 minutes played are already well over her entire season totals from 2007-08 (73 points, 47 rebounds, 148 minutes played) and are quickly approaching her two-year total entering the season (176, 141, 488).

Highway Robbery: Thornton's 39 steals this season are easily the most on the team and are already more than she recorded in her entire first two seasons combined (21).

Among The League's Best: Thornton's performance in the first 13 games not only has her ranked at the top of the team's stats but also have her among the best in the Horizon League. She finds herself listed in the league's top-10 in five categories, including a first-place ranking in defensive rebounds and second-place marks in blocks and total rebounds.

Bowen To No One: Brittany Bowen has been one of Butler's hottest players in the last five games, averaging 15.4 points per contest while hitting a total of 13 three-pointers. Included in that period was the most impressive single-game performance of her career at Miami (Ohio) on Dec. 13, as she set career-highs with 25 points, eight field goals, five three-pointers, eight rebounds and 39 minutes played. Her 18 threes this year lead the team, while her 1.4 triples per contest are seventh in the league.

In Elite Company: Senior center Lade Akande has assembled one of the finest careers in school history during her three-plus years on the team. In fact, this year she accomplished something that only three other Butler players have ever done. Her five rebounds against William & Mary pushed her career rebounding total to 603, making her just the fourth player in Bulldogs history to record over 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 100 blocks in their career. She currently touts 1,530 points, 660 rebounds and 122 blocks in her career.

1,000 On The Radar: In her third season with the team, sophomore Susan Lester has totalled 758 points in her career, the second most among Butler's active players. She already finds herself on the Bulldogs' career three-pointers-made list, checking in at 10th with 90.

Grand Theft: The Bulldogs' 25 steals against Christian Brothers ranks as a single-game high in the Horizon League this season and is just four behind the league record of 29, set by Notre Dame during the 1990-91 season. The output helped to boost Butler from a league fourth-place average of 9.8 steals per contest to a league-best 11.2 in just one game. Butler currently ranks second in the conference with 11.0 per game.

Bulldogs Ink Four For 2009-10: High school seniors Becca Bornhorst (6-1, F, Dublin, Ohio), Claire Freeman (5-9, G, Fishers, Ind.), Dragana Grbic (6-3, C, Terre Haute, Ind.) and Liz Jennings (6-1, F, Anderson, Ind.) each signed National Letters of Intent on the first day of the Early Signing Period. The quartet will attend Butler and play basketball beginning next fall.

Butler Basketball On The Web: Twenty-three of the Bulldogs' games this season will feature free live streaming video online. The Horizon League Network will feature 21 of those contests, including all of Butler's home games and every league road game. Additionally, the Bulldogs' games at Ohio State and Indiana were both streamed live on BigTenNetwork.com.

National Attention: The Bulldogs will get national attention in February, as their game against Wright State on Feb. 6 will be broadcast live on ESPNU beginning at 9 p.m. at Hinkle Fieldhouse. It will be the fourth time in four seasons Butler will appear on the ESPN network.

Next Up: Butler closes out its brief two-game road swing on Saturday (Jan. 10) when it heads to Dayton, Ohio to face Wright State beginning at 1:00 p.m. in the Ervin J. Nutter Center.