January 12, 2007

Bulldogs Host Loyola On Saturday

Jan. 12, 2007

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Game #16
Loyola (3-12, 2-3) at Butler (5-10, 2-2)

Date: Saturday, January 13, 2007
Time: 6:00 p.m. EST
Location: Hinkle Fieldhouse (11,043) Indianapolis, Ind.

Tip-Off: Butler continues its Horizon League schedule on Saturday (Jan. 13) when it hosts Loyola beginning at 6:00 p.m. in Hinkle Fieldhouse. The two teams will be meeting for the 49th time, the most for Butler versus any opponent, with the Bulldogs holding a 32-16 all-time record against the Ramblers. Butler has fared extremely well against the Chicago school when playing at Hinkle, touting a 20-3 mark on its home floor. Head coach Beth Couture is 5-3 against Loyola.

Celebrating Dr. King: In the continuation of a tradition, the Horizon League will honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a student-centered arts contest, which will culminate with celebrations at five league basketball games on Saturday, including the Bulldogs' home game against Loyola. Butler has partnered with nearby North Wayne Elementary School to organize a contest for fifth- and sixth-graders who will submit a piece of art, an essay or a musical performance focusing on the life of Dr. King, with 15 winners selected to be recognized prior to the game.

Butler Basketball on the Web: Cory Schnurbusch serves as the play-by-play voice of the Butler women's basketball team for the 2006-07 season. The broadcasts feature live game action on the web at www.ButlerSports.com and are offered for free. Butler also has streaming video available for all home and Horizon League contests during the year.

Previewing The Bulldogs: Butler (5-10, 2-2 Horizon League) continues to improve statistically after a slow start to the season. The Bulldogs have turned to the three-pointer as a large part of their scoring, with over a third (109-of-326) of their field goals coming from downtown. Senior guards Jackie Closser (12.3 points per game) and Ellen Hamilton (10.0 ppg) have each eclipsed 1,000 points in their careers this season and rank in the top six in the Horizon League in three pointers per game. Sophomore center Lade Akande adds a strong presence inside, leading the team with 12.9 ppg and 5.2 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Tara Miller has provided an offensive boost with 11.5 ppg in six games this year, while junior forward Cassie Freeman adds a long-range threat from the post position with 19 treys. Sophomores Candyce Brown and Candace Jones have each added depth on the perimeter, while freshmen forwards Susan Lester and Mel Thornton are the top post options off the bench. Head coach Beth Couture (312-193) is in her fifth season with the Bulldogs.

Bulldogs Fall Short of UIC: For the third-straight game, the Bulldogs sported four players in double-figures, led by Lade Akande's second double-double of the year, but 27.3 percent shooing from the field in the first half proved costly as Butler fell to UIC, 70-64, despite a valiant second-half charge. The Bulldogs outscored the Flames after the break, 37-34, shooting 50 percent (13-26) from the floor with five three-pointers, but 9-of-33 shooting in the opening stanza was too much to overcome. Akande (14), Tara Miller (13), Jackie Closser (11) and Ellen Hamilton (10) each finished in double figures.

A New Horizon: The start of the Horizon League schedule has been a welcomed change for the Bulldogs, and it shows in their numbers. In the four conference games this season, Butler is out-scoring its opponents by 5.5 points per game (70.2 to 64.8). The figures in the previous 11 non-conference match-ups, however, were far less impressive, as the Bulldogs were out-scored by 9.7 points per game (62.7 to 72.5).

Keeping The League In Check: One of the biggest reasons for Butler's success in Horizon League games this year has been its stifling defense. The Bulldogs lead the league in field goal defense in conference games, holding opponents to just a .388 field goal percentage.

The Tara Miller Factor: Things have notably improved for the Bulldogs since sophomore guard Tara Miller stepped onto the floor. In Butler's past six games since Miller's arrival in the lineup, the Bulldogs are averaging over 15 points per game more than in the first nine (73.8 to 58.7) and are holding opponents to over seven points per game fewer (66.0 to 73.3). Miller has helped the cause since becoming eligible on Dec. 18 after transferring from Indiana last fall, averaging 11.5 points per game, 3.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists.

...Or It Could Be Akande: Not to be lost in the Bulldogs' turn-around is the superb play of sophomore center Lade Akande. In her last six contests, the Pre-Season All-Horizon League First Team pick has averaged nearly seven points per game higher than in her previous seven games (16.5 to 10.9).

...But Don't Forget Closser: Senior guard Jackie Closser has also returned to her all-league self in the past five games, averaging 14.3 points per game and hitting 51.4 percent (18-of-35) from three-point range after scoring 10.9 ppg and converting just under 20 percent (13-of-66) from long distance in the first nine contests.

Moving On Up: After eclipsing 1,000 points in their careers this season, senior guards Jackie Closser and Ellen Hamilton continue to move up the Butler all-time scoring list. Closser currently touts 1,074 points in her career for 14th in the Bulldog record books and needs seven to pass Angela Cotton (1,080) for 13th all-time. Meanwhile, Hamilton ranks 15th with 1,035 after moving past Nancy Bowden (1,031). Closser became the 17th player in school history to reach 1,000 points at Louisville on Dec. 18, while Hamilton became number 18 at Cleveland State on Dec. 28.

Akande Brings It From The Paint: It's not all about shooting from long range for the Bulldogs, as sophomore Lade Akande can attest. The 6-1 center leads the team in scoring with 12.9 points per game despite not taking a single shot from beyond the arc this year. In fact, the Robinson, Ill. native has yet to shoot for three in 41 career games. She is currently second on the team and 11th in the Horizon League with a .431 field goal percentage.

...And She Does It In Conference Play: Akande has stepped up her game even further in Horizon League play. She ranks fourth in the league with 15.8 points per game and is tied for 11th with a .500 shooting percentage from the field. She has also pulled in 8.3 rebounds per league game, the fourth-highest total, and has posted a pair of double-doubles.

Triple Threat: The Bulldogs have been nearly unstoppable from three-point range this season. Butler is tied for the Horizon League lead with 7.3 three-pointers made per game while ranking third with a .335 three-point percentage. The Bulldogs slightly better in league contests, ranking tied for third in the conference with 7.5 per game.

Hamilton And Closser Lead the Way: Seniors Ellen Hamilton and Jackie Closser have led the way for the Bulldogs from downtown this season. The pair has averaged 2.1 makes per game from three-point range and are tied for fifth in the Horizon League.

Accuracy Counts: Ellen Hamilton and Cassie Freeman have each made the most of their attempts from long distance. Hamilton paces the team and is sixth in the Horizon League with a .397 three-point percentage (31-of-78), while Freeman ranks seventh with a .396 mark (19-of-48).

Jones, Miller and Lester: No, it's not a law firm; it's just an example of how many other options the Bulldogs have for pulling the trigger from three. Sophomore guard Candace Jones has hit 6-of-16 from three for a .375 shooting percentage, while sophomore guard Tara Miller netted 12-of-34 in her first six games with the team. Meanwhile, forward Susan Lester has added long range ability from the post position with seven treys of her own.

Keeping it Going: With three makes from beyond the arc against UIC on Jan. 11, Jackie Closser extended her streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer to 43 in a row. So far this season, she is 31-of-101 for three and is second on the team with 12.5 points per game. She made sure that every opponent got to feel her wrath from three-point last season, connecting from downtown in all 28 of her games played in 2005-06.

Crime Prevention: Opponents have had a rather difficult time attempting to pick the pockets of the Butler players this season. The Bulldogs have yielded 16.1 turnovers per game this year, the second-fewest in the Horizon League, and also rank third in assists-to-turnover ratio at 0.8. Butler's six turnovers against Air Force on Nov. 22 is also the lowest single-game total in the Horizon League this season.

Taking Advantage of Charity: It's not as if Jackie Closser is asking to go to the free throw line, but, when she does, she makes opponents pay. She is currently third in the league in free-throw efficiency, netting 39 of her 46 attempts for a .848 average. In fact, Closser has connected on 14 in a row, with her last miss coming at Evansville on Dec. 6.

Minute Minder: Jackie Closser must really enjoy time-outs, because she doesn't get too many other opportunities to catch her breath. The senior guard has played the full 40 minutes in five games this season and has played fewer than 35 minutes only three times. She currently leads the team and the Horizon League with 37.0 minutes per game.

...And It Could Be The Most Ever: Jackie Closser has spent a lot of time on the court this season, but she could end up spending more time on the floor than anyone else in Butler history. Closser has played 3,158 minutes in her career, the fifth-most all-time, and needs 450 minutes to pass Mary Majewski (3,607) for the most in school history. With 13 regular season games and at least one Horizon League Tournament game remaining, she will need to average just over 32 minutes per game to eclipse the mark.

Hamilton Is Right Behind: Ellen Hamilton has been a staple on the floor for the Bulldogs alongside Closser and is also approaching rare figures in terms of minutes played. The senior guard currently touts 2,753 minutes in her career and ranks 10th on the all-time list.

A Little Bit Of Help: Jackie Closser has been extremely helpful to the Bulldogs on offense this season and during her career. The senior guard ranks third in the Horizon League with 3.9 assists per game and is fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.4. She also touts 381 assists in her career, the sixth-most in school history, and is just one behind Jennifer Marlow's fifth-place total of 382. The school record of 584 is held by Melissa Kilgore.

...And A Big Help All At Once: Closser's 11 assists against Bradley on Nov. 17 were a career-high for the 5-5 guard and is a Horizon League season-high. She also finished with 14 points in the game for the only points-assists double-double in the Horizon League this year.

Feeling A Little Rejected: You really couldn't blame Air Force if they felt a little intimidated by the Bulldogs in their game on Nov. 22. That's because Butler notched 11 blocks in the contest, the highest single-game total in the Horizon League this season. Six players contributed at least once, with junior Cassie Freeman touting a career-best four.

Butler Inks Quartet For 2007: High school stand-outs Azjah Bass, Terra Burns, Chloe Hamilton and Jenny Ostrom have all signed national letters of intent to attend Butler and play basketball beginning in the fall of 2007. All four have earned all-state accolades and are either approaching or have surpassed 1,000 points in their careers.

Lending A Helping Hand: The Butler women's basketball team took time out of their busy schedule on Nov. 4 to assist at the Special Olympics Area 8 Bowling Championships at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis. Members of the team and coaching staff helped out as lane assistants, runners and scorers for the event and presented the awards to the winners. Special Olympics Indiana provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for persons eight years of age and older with intellectual disabilities.

At The Buzzer: The Bulldogs return to the road next week when they head to Detroit on Thursday (Jan. 18) for a 7:00 p.m. contest with the Titans at Calihan Hall.