THE TIP: Butler continues its 2006 Horizon League Tournament run Sunday, traveling to top seed UW-Milwaukee for a semifinal contest. The fourth-seeded Bulldogs enter the game with a record of 15-13, while the Panthers are 20-8. The teams split two regular season match-ups with Butler winning at the KlotscheCenter on New Year's Eve. Free video of the (CST, ) tip will be available live at www.butlersports.com.
THE SERIES: This is the 26th meeting between UW-Milwaukee and the Bulldogs. The Panthers own a 14-11 advantage in the all-time series, including an 8-4 edge in Milwaukee. Butler knocked off UWM, 80-79, in overtime in Milwaukee Dec. 31, before the Panthers got revenge, 74-62, Feb. 11 in Hinkle Fieldhouse. This is the first time that UWM and Butler will meet in Horizon League Tournament play, but not the first time the teams have met in the postseason. Butler downed UWM, 77-64, in the opening round of the 1982 Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women Midwest regional March 11, 1982, the teams' first meeting.
LEAGUE RECOGNITION: Junior Jackie Closser earned "All-Horizon League" first-team honors, while freshman Lade Akande was named to the "All-Horizon League" second team and the league's five-member "All-Newcomer Team," the league office announced Monday (Feb. 27). The league's head coaches, sports information directors and a media member voted on the postseason awards. Nancy Bowden was the last Bulldog to earn first-team honors (2004), while Akande is the Bulldogs' fourth All-Newcomer selection in the last five years.
`JACK' OF ALL TRADES: With her trio of three-pointers Feb. 16 at Loyola, junior Jackie Closser became the most prolific three-point shooter in Butler history, breaking Debbie Benziger's (1995-98) previous mark of 167. Closser now has 182 career bombs and still has more than a season remaining in her Butler career. Closser also has broken her own single-season three-pointers mark (67 set last season), entering Sunday's contest with 80 treys already this season, the fifth-best mark in Horizon League history. She continues to lead the conference with an average of 2.96 three-pointers made per game. That's the eighth-best mark in the nation.
MORE ON JACKIE: Closser's .860 mark at the free throw line leads the circuit as well. Not just a shooter, Closser also leads the Horizon League in assists at 5.30 per game, the 22nd-best mark in the NCAA. She leads the circuit in assist/turnover ratio (1.88) and her 320 career assists are seventh on Butler's charts.
BIG PLAY LADE: Freshman Lade Akande has become a model of consistency for the Bulldogs. The 6-1 post player has been in double figures in 11 straight games and 20 of Butler's last 21 contests. Akande has posted twelve 20+ point performances in her freshman campaign. Her 16.0 ppg scoring average is fourth in the Horizon League, while she is second in rebounding at 7.9 boards per contest. Her scoring average jumps to 18.1 against league competition, the second-highest mark in the circuit. Akande's 447 points this season are the sixth-best single-season mark in Butler history.
Akande is coming off a 24-point outing in the team's quarterfinal win over Detroit. She has scored at least 24 points in four of her last five games.
DIALED IN: Butler leads the Horizon League and remains among the national leaders in long distance proficiency. The Bulldogs lead the Horizon League in three-point percentage (.389) and three-pointers per game (7.71). Butler ranks third among the NCAA's 324 institutions in three-pointers made and eighth in trey percentage. Butler nailed 11 treys Feb. 25 against UW-Green Bay, the 14th time this season hitting at least eight treys.
Butler's 216 three-pointers so far this season breaks the school-record of 204 set one season ago.
SHOOTING IT STRAIGHT: Junior Ellen Hamilton is knocking down 47 percent of her three-point attempts so far this season, which is good for the No. 2 spot in the NCAA. Due to the Horizon League requiring less made treys than the NCAA, Hamilton is second in the Horizon League. Hamilton is tied for second on the career treys list (167) and has 69 three-pointers already this season, the second-best total in Butler single-season history. Hamilton ranks second in the league in treys made at 2.46 per game.
ON THE DEFENSIVE: Despite its second-worst shooting display of the season, Butler held Detroit to an even worse mark from the field (.315) in a 58-45 quarterfinal win Wednesday. The 45 points allowed are the fewest by a Butler opponent since Jan. 15, 2005 when Detroit again only scored 45 points in a 65-45 loss to Butler. No Detroit player scored in double figures Wednesday.
OFFENSIVE BEHAVIOR: Butler is averaging 69.5 points per game this season, the second-best total in the Horizon League. The Bulldogs boast three of the top nine scorers in the Horizon League in Lade Akande (16.0), Jackie Closser (15.0) and Ellen Hamilton (13.0). The trio ranks 4-5-9 in the league standings.
Butler is 13-2 this season when scoring 70 points or more.
QUICK SHOTS: Butler has 15 wins, a season-high for the Bulldogs under Beth Couture. A win Sunday would give Couture 50 wins at Butler...Wednesday's quarterfinal win came in Butler's first home game under the Horizon League's new tournament format where higher seeds host the early rounds of the tournament, implemented in 2004...Butler's 27 made free throws (on 33 attempts) Wednesday were a season-high...junior Jackie Closser played all 40 minutes Wednesday against Detroit, the ninth time this season she's gone the distance...Ellen Hamilton (Jan. 16) joined Jackie Closser (Dec. 5) and Lade Akande (Dec. 26) in winning the Horizon League's Player of the Week honor. The only other season when three different Bulldogs earned the distinction was the 1996-97 season...former Indiana All-Star Tara Miller has transferred to Butler from IndianaUniversity. The 5-10 guard began practice with the team Jan. 17 and will have three seasons of eligibility remaining, beginning after the first semester of the 2006-07 season.
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR US?: Freshman Candyce Brown had career-highs of nine rebounds and six assists Wednesday against Detroit. Since stepping in for the injured Stephanie Boeke Feb. 6 at Detroit, Brown is averaging 5.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
WE'RE GOING STREAKING: Butler has hit at least one three-pointer in 152 straight games, dating back to Feb. 1, 2001...the Bulldogs have shot at least 70 percent from the free throw line in 10 of their last 12 games.
AGAINST THE PANTHERS: Freshman Lade Akande has averaged 19.0 ppg against UWM this season, including a career-high 28 points in the 80-79 overtime win Dec. 31...Butler is 25-of-30 from the free throw line against UWM this season...the Panthers hold an 82-63 advantage in rebounding in the two games...UWM has hit only six treys against Butler in the two games...UWM's Traci Edwards has averaged 23.5 points and 11.5 rebounds.
BOEKE LOST FOR THE SEASON: Senior forward Stephanie Boeke will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee during Butler's game at Detroit Feb. 6. At the time of her injury, Boeke ranked in the top 10 among Horizon League players in six of the league's 12 statistical categories.
NO. 300: Butler head coach Beth Couture hit the 300 milestone for career wins Jan. 18 with the Bulldogs' 85-72 triumph over Loyola at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The first 258 wins of Couture's career came at PresbyterianCollege.
WORTHLESS STAT OF THE DAY: Butler has alternated wins and losses in its last seven games, the longest such stretch since Nov. 25-Dec. 13, 2003, when the team also alternated wins and losses in seven straight games.