Butler Heads To UW-Milwaukee For Third-Place Showdown

Feb. 20, 2007

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Game #25
Butler (11-13, 8-4) at UW-Milwaukee (12-13, 8-4)

Date: Thursday, February 22, 2007
Time: 7:00 p.m. CST
Location: Klotsche Center (5,000) Milwaukee, Wis.

Tip-Off: The Bulldogs begin their final road swing of the regular season on Thursday (Feb. 22) when they head to UW-Milwaukee for a 7:00 p.m. CST contest with the Panthers in the Klotsche Center. A win by Butler (11-13, 8-4 Horizon League) would give the Bulldogs a two-game series sweep of UW-Milwaukee (12-13, 8-4 HL) for the first time since the 1995-96 season and give Butler sole possession of third-place in the league standings.

The Last Time We Met: Lade Akande netted 25 points, Susan Lester notched a double-double and the Bulldogs had every one of their 31 field goals assisted on as Butler held off visiting UW-Milwaukee, 81-74, on Jan. 27. Akande was unstoppable in the second half, scoring 23 points on 10-of-11 shooting from the field, while seven Bulldogs each contributed at least one assist in the game. Lester finished with her fourth double-double of the year, notching 20 points, 10 boards and five assists.

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 (11-13, 8-4 Horizon League) sits tied for third place in the Horizon League standings after winning six of its last eight league contests. The Bulldogs have used the three-pointer as a large part of their scoring, with over a third (183-of-541) of their field goals coming from downtown and their 7.6 treys per game ranking eighth in the NCAA Division I. Senior guards Jackie Closser (14.2 ppg) and Ellen Hamilton (8.2 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 14.2 ppg, while freshman post Susan Lester leads the team with 5.8 rpg. Sophomore guard Tara Miller has provided an all-around boost with 8.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg and 3.7 apg, while junior forward Cassie Freeman adds a long-range threat from the post position with a .351 three-point percentage. Candyce Brown and Candace Jones provide depth on the perimeter, while forwards Candace Bain and Mel Thornton are the top post options off the bench. Head coach Beth Couture (318-196) is in her fifth season with the Bulldogs.

Bulldogs All Business In Win Over Detroit: Butler used a workman-like effort on offense, shooting 42.4 percent from the field and posting four players in double-figures, as the Bulldogs held off visiting Detroit, 77-64, on Feb. 17. The Bulldogs led throughout the contest, going 25-of-59 from the field with seven three-pointers in cruising to their eighth league win. Lade Akande led the effort with 20 points, while Jackie Closser netted 14 with a game-high six assists. Ellen Hamilton regained her offensive stroke, hitting three treys and finishing with 11 points, while Mel Thornton scored 10 for the second-straight game and added a career-best nine boards.

Coming Off The Bench With Authority: Candace Jones and Mel Thornton have provided quite a presence off the bench in the past two games. Jones came within one point of her career-high point-total with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting on Feb. 10 at UIC before adding nine points and nine rebounds against Detroit on Feb. 17. Thornton, meanwhile, posted back-to-back 10 point contests, the most in her career, while adding six rebounds against the Flames and a career

National Attention: The Bulldogs are currently listed in the NCAA Division-I Top-50 in four categories. As a team, Butler ranks eighth in Division I with 7.6 three-pointers made per game. The Bulldogs have also yielded only 14.8 turnovers per game, the 26th-lowest mark in the nation. Additionally, senior guard Jackie Closser finds herself mentioned in two categories, ranking in a 24th-place tie with 2.5 treys per game and 38th with an 84.5 free throw percentage.

Numbers Game: The Bulldogs are 6-1 in Horizon League play this year when leading at halftime and are 7-2 when they score more three-pointers than their opponent. Free throws and turnovers have also been key, as Butler is 7-2 in league play when out-scoring its opponent from the line and 7-2 when committing fewer turnovers.

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 26th-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 eight of their last nine games, while their six turnovers against Air Force on Nov. 22 remains the lowest single-game total in the Horizon League this season.

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 nine of its last 14 games and has averaged almost 14 points more per game (58.7 to 72.5). Meanwhile, Butler has gone from being out-scored by nearly 15 points per game to holding a 4.5 point edge on its foes. Miller has provided a spark in just about every aspect of the game during that time, averaging 8.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game.

Keeping it Going: With her two makes from three-point against Detroit on Feb. 17, Jackie Closser extended her streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer to 52 in a row. Her trek is the longest active streak in the NCAA and is only eight 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 eighth in the NCAA with 7.6 three-pointers made per game while ranking second in the league with a .343 three-point percentage. The Bulldogs have averaged even more in league games, ranking second with 8.0 per game and third with a .352 percentage.

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 the Horizon League lead with 2.5 makes per game, while Hamilton has hit 1.8 per game for a seventh-place tie in the conference.

Accuracy Counts: Ellen Hamilton, Jackie Closser and Cassie Freeman have each made the most of their attempts from long distance. Hamilton leads the team and is eighth in the Horizon League with a .377 three-point percentage (43-of-114), while Closser checks in at 10th in the conference at .365 (61-of-167). Freeman, meanwhile, is the only post player ranked among the league's top 15, placing 12th with a .351 percentage (26-of-74).

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 10-of-28 from three for a .357 shooting percentage, while sophomore guard Tara Miller has netted 24-of-70 (.343) in just 15 games with the team. Meanwhile, forward Susan Lester has added long range ability from the post position with a .327 mark (16-of-49).

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 tied for the team-lead in scoring with 14.2 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 50 career games. She currently leads the team and is sixth in the Horizon League with a .475 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 16.6 points per game and is fifth with a .523 shooting percentage from the field. She has also pulled in 6.3 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 1,231 points in her career and is eighth in the Bulldog record books after passing Liz Skinner (1,224). Meanwhile, Hamilton ranks 14th with 1,081 after moving past Angela Cotton (1,080). 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 second in the league in free-throw efficiency, netting 82 of her 97 attempts for a .845 average. Closser has missed only seven shots in Horizon League play this season (53-of-60) and is second with an .883 percentage. Her mark includes a perfect 12-for-12 performance 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 six. She currently leads the Horizon League with 37.1 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 3,493 minutes in her career, the third-most all-time, and needs only 114 minutes to pass Mary Majewski (3,607) for the most in school history. At her current clip of 37.1 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 2,952 minutes in her career and ranks ninth on the all-time list after passing Debbie Benziger (2,948) with 26 minutes against Detroit.

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 fourth in the Horizon League with 4.0 assists per game and is fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.6. She also touts 422 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 wrap up their final regular-season road swing of the year on Saturday (Feb. 24) when they take on league-leading UW-Green Bay beginning at 3:00 p.m. CST. in the Phoenix Sports Center.