January 31, 2007

Bulldogs Close Homestand Against Wright State On Saturday

Jan. 31, 2007

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Game #21
Wright State (5-14, 3-5) at Butler (8-12, 5-3)

Date: Saturday, February 3, 2007
Time: 6:00 p.m. EST
Location: Hinkle Fieldhouse (11,043) Indianapolis, Ind.

Tip-Off: Butler faces Wright State for the second time this season when it hosts the Raiders on Saturday (Feb. 3) beginning at 6:00 p.m. at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Bulldogs, tied for third in the Horizon League standings with UIC, dropped their first contest of the year against WSU at the Nutter Center on Jan. 6, falling in a close 76-71 battle. Butler owns a 20-13 all-time record against the Raiders, including a 10-5 mark in Hinkle Fieldhouse.

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 (8-12, 5-3 Horizon League) stands tied for third in the Horizon League standings earning a much-needed win against UW-Milwaukee on Jan. 27. The Bulldogs have used the three-pointer as a large part of their scoring, with nearly 35 percent (155-of-443) of their field goals coming from downtown and their 7.8 treys per game ranking 10th in the NCAA Division I. Senior guards Jackie Closser (13.6 points per game) and Ellen Hamilton (8.9 ppg) have each eclipsed 1,000 points in their careers this season and rank in the top 10 in the Horizon League in three pointers per game. Sophomore center Lade Akande adds a strong inside presence, averaging 13.4 ppg, while freshman post Susan Lester leads the team with 5.3 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Tara Miller has provided an offensive boost with 9.3 ppg over the last 11 games, while junior forward Cassie Freeman adds a long-range threat from the post position. Candyce Brown and Candace Jones have each added depth on the perimeter, while forwards Candace Bain and Mel Thornton are the top post options off the bench. Head coach Beth Couture (315-195) is in her fifth season with the Bulldogs.

Akande, Lester Lead Butler Past UW-Milwaukee: Lade Akande netted 25 points, Susan Lester notched her third-straight double-double and the Bulldogs had every one of their 31 field goals assisted on as Butler held off visiting UW-Milwaukee on Jan. 27. The two teams scrapped through 15 lead changes and eight ties, with neither team leading by more than six until the final minute of play. Akande took over in the second half, scoring 23 of her game-high 25 points on 10-of-11 shooting from the field, while the Bulldogs continued to distribute on offense, as seven players each contributed at least one assist. Lester finished with her fourth double-double of the year and third in her last three games, notching 20 points, 10 boards and five assists.

Lester Earns Weekly Nod: After her dominant performance against two of the top teams in the league, Susan Lester was named the Bulldogs' first Horizon League Player of the Week in 2006-07. Lester notched double-doubles against both UW-Green Bay and UW-Milwaukee while going up against Pre-Season All-League First Team picks Nicole Soulis (UWGB) and Traci Edwards (UWM).

A Little Help Goes A Long Way: Butler had a lot of help with its shooting against UW-Milwaukee on Jan. 27, as every one of the Bulldogs' season-high 31 field goals as assisted on. The 31 assists is the Horizon League's single-game standard for this season, while the 31-on-31 percentage was just one off of the NCAA Division-I single-game record of 32 assists on 32 makes, set by St. Louis in 1986.

The Better Half: You couldn't have a much better second half than Lade Akande on Jan. 27 against Milwaukee. After scoring only two points on 1-of-5 shooting in the opening period, Akande erupted for 23 points after the break, posting an incredible 10-of-11 mark from the field.

National Attention: The Bulldogs are currently listed in the NCAA Division-I Top-50 in three categories. As a team, Butler ranks 10th in Division I with 7.8 three-pointers made per game. The Bulldogs have also yielded only 15.3 turnovers per game, the 32nd-lowest mark in the nation. Additionally, senior guard Jackie Closser has been one of the NCAA's top three-point shooters, averaging 2.4 makes per game for a share of 45th-place in the country.

Keeping it Going: With four triples against UW-Milwaukee on Jan. 27, Jackie Closser extended her streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer to 48 in a row. Her trek is the longest active streak in the NCAA and is only 12 shy of the Division I record of 60. However, time is at a premium, as the Bulldogs will need to advance to the NCAA Tournament for Closser to play in enough games to break the mark.

Double Trouble: Freshman Susan Lester has been Butler's top newcomers this season, but she has been one of its best players overall in the last three. In contests against IPFW, UW-Green Bay and UW-Milwaukee, she has averaged 17.3 points and 10.3 rebounds to notch three-straight double-doubles. Lester has totalled four double-doubles this year, the most on the team, and leads the Bulldogs with 5.3 rebounds per game.

Triple Threat: The Bulldogs have been nearly unstoppable from three-point range this season. Butler is second in the Horizon League and 10th in the NCAA with 7.8 three-pointers made per game while ranking fourth in the league with a .341 three-point percentage. The Bulldogs have averaged even more in league games and are tied for second with 8.5 per game.

Closser And Hamilton Lead the Way: Senior guards Jackie Closser and Ellen Hamilton have led the way for the Bulldogs from downtown this season. Closser leads the team and is second in the Horizon League with 2.4 makes per game, while Hamilton has hit 1.9 per game for eighth in the conference.

Accuracy Counts: Ellen Hamilton and Cassie Freeman have both made the most of their attempts from long distance. Hamilton leads the team and is fifth in the Horizon League with a .388 three-point percentage (38-of-98), while Freeman is the only post player ranked among the league's top 15, ranking eighth with a .366 percentage (26-of-71).

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 7-of-20 from three for a .350 shooting percentage, while sophomore guard Tara Miller has netted 21-of-57 (.368) in her first 11 games with the team. Meanwhile, forward Susan Lester has added long range ability from the post position with 13 treys of her own.

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 is second on the team in scoring with 13.4 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 46 career games. She currently leads the team and is seventh in the Horizon League with a .457 field goal percentage.

...And She Does It In Conference Play: Akande has stepped up her game even further in Horizon League play. She is fourth in the league with 16.0 points per game and is sixth with a .516 shooting percentage from the field. She has also pulled in 6.6 rebounds per league game, the tied for the sixth-highest total, and has posted a pair of double-doubles.

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 1,161 points in her career for 10th in the Bulldog record books after passing both Cortney Urquhart (1,154) and Martha Kondalski (1,157). Meanwhile, Hamilton ranks 15th with 1,062 and requires 19 points to move pass Angela Cotton (1,080) for 14th. 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.

Crime Prevention: Opponents have had a rather difficult time attempting to pick the pockets of the Butler players this season. The Bulldogs have yielded 15.3 turnovers per game this year, the second-fewest in the Horizon League and 32nd-fewest in the nation. Butler also ranks second in the league in assists-to-turnover ratio at 1.0. 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 free-throw efficiency, netting 64 of her 76 attempts for a .842 average. In fact, Closser has missed only four shots in Horizon League play this season, hitting 35-of-39 for a league-leading .897 percentage. Her mark includes a perfect 12-of-12 effort from the line at Detroit on Jan. 18.

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 36.9 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 3,341 minutes in her career, the fourth-most all-time, and needs 267 minutes to pass Mary Majewski (3,607) for the most in school history. With eight regular season games and at least one Horizon League Tournament game remaining, she will need to average just under 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 2,863 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 4.0 assists per game and is fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.5. She also touts 402 assists in her career, the fifth-most in school history. Fourth place is a ways off, however, as Barb Skinner dished 509 from 1980-83. The school record of 584 was set by Melissa Kilgore from 1985-88.

...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, tied for 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. Since then, only Detroit has registered 11, coming against Youngstown State on Jan. 13.

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: Butler heads north to Chicago to begin a brief two-game road swing through the Windy City when it takes on Loyola on Thursday (Feb. 8) beginning at 7:00 p.m. Central Time.