February 9, 2007

Butler Wraps Up Chicago Swing At UIC On Saturday

Feb. 9, 2007

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Game #23
Butler (10-12, 7-3) at UIC (14-9, 8-3)

Date: Saturday, February 10, 2007
Time: 7:00 p.m. CST
Location: UIC Pavilion (8,000) Chicago, Ill.

Tip-Off: Butler closes its brief swing through the Windy City on Saturday (Feb. 10) when it takes on UIC beginning at 7:00 p.m. CST in the UIC Pavilion. The Bulldogs (10-12, 7-3 Horizon League) will attempt to push their current winning streak to a season-best four games while claiming a half-game lead over the Flames (14-9, 8-3 HL). UIC claimed victory in the first meeting of the season with a 70-64 decision on Jan. 11 and has won the past six contests, but the Bulldogs are 4-1 in league games when playing on the road this year.

Weekend Shake-up: Butler, currently in fourth in the Horizon League standings with a 7-3 mark, could end up in second place by the end of the day Saturday. A win over UIC (8-3) would move the Bulldogs ahead of the Flames by a half-game. Meanwhile, a win by first-place UW-Green Bay (9-0) over second-place UW-Milwaukee (7-2) would drop the Panthers into third and a half-game behind Butler.

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 (10-12, 7-3 Horizon League) sits just a half-game out of third-place in the Horizon League standings after winning five of its last six league contests. The Bulldogs have used the three-pointer as a large part of their scoring, with nearly 35 percent (171-of-493) of their field goals coming from downtown and their 7.8 treys per game ranking ninth in the NCAA Division I. Senior guards Jackie Closser (14.1 ppg) and Ellen Hamilton (8.4 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 13.8 ppg, while freshman post Susan Lester leads the team with 5.8 rpg. Sophomore guard Tara Miller has provided an all-around boost with 8.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg and 3.8 apg, while junior forward Cassie Freeman adds a long-range threat from the post position with a .361 three-point percentage. 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 (317-195) is in her fifth season with the Bulldogs.

Akande, Lester Help Butler Claw Past Loyola: Lade Akande and Susan Lester combined for 49 points and 20 rebounds and the Bulldogs hung on through a fast-paced affair to top host Loyola, 71-67, on Feb. 8 at the Joseph J. Gentile Center. The two squads scrapped through 17 lead changes, including 12 in a high-octane first half, before the Bulldogs held on in the final eight minutes for the win. Lester finished with her fifth double-double of the season, notching a career-high with 13 rebounds and tying her career mark with 24 points. Akande led all scorers with 25 points on a career-tying 11 field goals and added seven boards, three blocks and three steals.

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 is the second-straight Butler player to earn the 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 ninth in Division I with 7.8 three-pointers made per game and 49th with a 34.7 shooting percentage from three. The Bulldogs have also yielded only 14.8 turnovers per game, the 23rd-lowest mark in the nation. Additionally, senior guard Jackie Closser finds herself mentioned in two categories, ranking in a 30th-place tie with 2.5 treys per game and a tie for 40th with an 84.5 percent mark from the free-throw line.

Numbers Game: Butler touts a 4-1 mark in Horizon League play this season when playing on the road. The Bulldogs are also undefeated in conference play at 5-0 when leading at halftime and are 6-1 when they out-score their opponent from beyond the arc

Crime Prevention: Opponents have had a rather difficult time attempting to pick the pockets of the Butler players this season. The Bulldogs have yielded 14.8 turnovers per game this year, the second-fewest in the Horizon League and 23rd-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 seven games, while their six turnovers against Air Force on Nov. 22 remains the lowest single-game total in the Horizon League this season.

Double Trouble: Freshman Susan Lester has been nearly unstoppable at times this year, especially of late. In Butler's last five contests, she has averaged 16.8 points and 10.2 rebounds while notching four double-doubles. She has led the Bulldogs in rebounding 10 times this season, and her five double-doubles and 5.8 rebounds per game pace the squad.

The Tara Miller Effect: It might be pure coincidence, but things have turned for the better ever since sophomore guard Tara Miller became eligible to play. Since dropping a closely-contested battle to No. 16 Louisville in Miller's first game, Butler has won eight of its last 12 games and has averaged nearly 14 points more per game (58.7 to 72.3). The Bulldogs have also taken better care of the basketball since that time, yielding almost three fewer per contest (16.4 to 13.7). Miller, meanwhile, has provided a spark in just about every aspect of the game, averaging 8.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game.

Keeping it Going: With her make at Loyola on Feb. 8, Jackie Closser extended her streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer to 50 in a row. Her trek is the longest active streak in the NCAA and is only 10 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 is second in the Horizon League and is ninth in the NCAA with 7.8 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 8.4 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 1.8 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 seventh in the Horizon League with a .381 three-point percentage (40-of-105), while Freeman is the only post player ranked among the league's top 15, placing 11th 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-23 from three for a .348 shooting percentage, while sophomore guard Tara Miller has netted 23-of-64 (.359) in just 13 games with the team. Meanwhile, forward Susan Lester has added long range ability from the post position with a .348 mark (16-of-46).

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 13.7 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 48 career games. She currently leads the team and is sixth in the Horizon League with a .465 field goal percentage.

...And She Does It In Conference Play: Akande has stepped up her game even further in Horizon League play. She is fifth in the league with 16.0 points per game and is sixth with a .517 shooting percentage from the field. She has also pulled in 6.4 rebounds per league game, the seventh-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 1,200 points in her career for 10th in the Bulldog record books and is 14 points behind Debbie Benziger (1,214) for ninth. Meanwhile, Hamilton ranks 15th with 1,070 and requires 11 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.

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 71 of her 84 attempts for a .845 average. In fact, Closser has missed only five shots in Horizon League play this season (43-of-47) and is first with a .894 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 and has played the full 40 minutes in five. She currently leads 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 3,417 minutes in her career, the fourth-most all-time, and needs only 191 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 touts rare figures in terms of minutes played. The senior guard has played 2,912 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 1.6. She also touts 412 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.

...While a Lot of Help Goes A Long Way: Butler had a ton of assistance with its shooting against UW-Milwaukee on Jan. 27, as every one of the Bulldogs' season-high 31 field goals was 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.

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.

At The Buzzer: The Bulldogs will have a week of preparation for their next contest, as Butler returns to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday (Feb. 17) to host Detroit beginning at 8:00 p.m.