February 6, 2007

Butler Begins Swing Through Chicago At Loyola On Thursday

Feb. 6, 2007

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Game #22
Butler (9-12, 6-3) at Loyola (6-15, 4-6)

Date: Thursday, February 8, 2007
Time: 7:00 p.m. CST
Location: Joseph J. Gentile Center (5,500) Chicago, Ill.

Tip-Off: The Bulldogs travel to the Windy City when they take on Loyola beginning at 7:00 p.m. CST on Thursday (Feb. 8) at the Joseph J. Gentile Center. Butler, 33-16 all-time against the Ramblers, will be playing for its third-straight Horizon League win and its fifth in six games. Loyola holds a 13-10 edge over Butler when playing at the Gentile Center, but the Bulldogs have won the last six games overall, including the last two in Chicago.

Detroit Game Time Set: The Bulldogs' home contest against Detroit on Feb. 17 is now set to tip-off at 8:00 p.m. following the Butler men's contest against Southern Illinois at 4:00 p.m. The game times were originally listed as TBA due to the men's game being part of ESPN Bracketbuster Saturday.

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 (9-12, 6-3 Horizon League) sits just a half-game out of third-place in the Horizon League standings after winning its last two contests. The Bulldogs have used the three-pointer as a large part of their scoring, with over 35 percent (167-of-466) of their field goals coming from downtown and their 8.0 treys per game ranking sixth in the NCAA Division I. Senior guards Jackie Closser (14.2 points per game) and Ellen Hamilton (8.6 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 13.1 ppg, while freshman post Susan Lester leads the team with 5.5 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Tara Miller has provided an offensive boost with 9.0 ppg, while junior forward Cassie Freeman adds a long-range threat from the post position. Candyce Brown and Candace Jones add depth on the perimeter, while forwards Candace Bain and Mel Thornton are the top post options off the bench. Head coach Beth Couture (316-195) is in her fifth season with the Bulldogs.

Closser's Career-Night Propels Butler Past WSU: Jackie Closser unleashed a barrage of three-pointers en route to a career-high 28 points and the Bulldogs led throughout the entire affair as Butler notched its second-straight Horizon League win over visiting Wright State, 68-56, on Feb. 3 at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Closser, the only Butler player to register double-figures on the night, was nearly unstoppable from beyond the arc, hitting five treys in the first half before adding a pair in the second in breaking her single-game career-high with seven makes. Candace Jones came off the bench to add a spark on both sides of the ball, scoring eight points and notching five boards and two assists. Susan Lester added eight points of her own and a team-high eight rebounds, while Lade Akande finished with seven points and four boards off the bench.

Closser Earns Weekly Nod: After her career-performance in leading the Bulldogs to victory against Wright State, Jackie Closser was named the Horizon League's Women's Basketball Player of the Week on Feb. 5. Her 28 points, nine field goals and seven treys were all career-best marks, while her six assists led the team. She became the second-straight Butler player to be recognized with the league's weekly honor, following Susan Lester who earned the award on Jan. 29.

National Attention: The Bulldogs are currently listed in the NCAA Division-I Top-50 in five categories. As a team, Butler ranks sixth in Division I with 8.0 three-pointers made per game and 47th with a 34.8 shooting percentage from three. The Bulldogs have also yielded only 15.0 turnovers per game, tied for the 25th-lowest mark in the nation. Additionally, senior guard Jackie Closser finds herself mentioned in two categories, ranking in a 22nd-place tie with 2.6 treys per game and 48th with an 83.8 percent mark from the free-throw line.

Keeping it Going: With her career-best seven triples against Wright State, Jackie Closser extended her streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer to 49 in a row. Her trek is the longest active streak in the NCAA and is only 11 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.

Triple Threat: The Bulldogs have been nearly unstoppable from three-point range this season. Butler leads the Horizon League and is sixth in the NCAA with 8.0 three-pointers made per game while ranking third in the league with a .348 three-point percentage. The Bulldogs have averaged even more in league games, ranking second with 8.9 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 tied for first in the Horizon League with 2.6 makes per game, while Hamilton has hit 1.9 per game for seventh 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 .379 three-point percentage (39-of-103), while Freeman is the only post player ranked among the league's top 10, placing ninth with a .361 percentage (26-of-72).

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 8-of-22 from three for a .364 shooting percentage, while sophomore guard Tara Miller has netted 22-of-60 (.367) in just 12 games with the team. Meanwhile, forward Susan Lester has added long range ability from the post position with a .349 mark (15-of-43).

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 13.1 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 47 career games. She currently leads the team and is sixth in the Horizon League with a .454 field goal percentage.

...And She Does It In Conference Play: Akande has stepped up her game even further in Horizon League play. She is eighth in the league with 15.0 points per game and is sixth with a .505 shooting percentage from the field. She has also pulled in 6.3 rebounds per league game, the tied for the sixth-highest total, and has posted a pair of double-doubles.

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 5.5 rebounds per game.

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 1,189 points in her career for 10th in the Bulldog record books and is 25 points behind Debbie Benziger (1,214) for ninth. Meanwhile, Hamilton ranks 15th with 1,065 and requires 16 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 15.0 turnovers per game this year, the second-fewest in the Horizon League and 25th-fewest in the nation. Butler also ranks second in the league in assists-to-turnover ratio at 1.0. In fact, the Bulldogs have allowed no more than 14 miscues in their last six games, while their six turnovers against Air Force on Nov. 22 remains 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 67 of her 80 attempts for a .838 average. In fact, Closser has missed only five shots in Horizon League play this season (39-of-43) and is second with a .884 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 fewer than 35 minutes only three times this year, including five games in which she played the full 40. 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 3,379 minutes in her career, the fourth-most all-time, and needs 229 minutes to pass Mary Majewski (3,607) for the most in school history. At her current clip of 37 minutes per game, she is on track to break the record during the final regular season contest against Cleveland State on March 3.

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 2,895 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 4.1 assists per game and is fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.5. She also touts 409 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.

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 remains in Chicago through the weekend as it takes on UIC in a potential battle for third on Saturday (Feb. 10) beginning at 7:00 p.m. CST.