Bulldogs Take On William & Mary In New Mexico Saturday

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GAME 5
Butler (1-3) vs. William & Mary (3-2)
Holiday Inn & Suites Express Midtown Thanksgiving Tournament
Saturday, Nov. 29 - 7:00 p.m. ET
The Pit - ALbuquerque, N.M.

The Opening Tip: Butler concludes the Holiday Inn & Suites Express Midtown Thanksgiving Tournament in the consolation game on Saturday (Nov. 29) when it takes on William & Mary beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET (5:00 p.m. MT) at The Pit in Albuquerque, N.M. The Bulldogs will try to rebound from a 67-54 tournament-opening defeat at the hands of Nebraska on Friday (Nov. 28) when it battles the Tribe for just the second time in school history.

The Bulldogs At A Glance: Butler carries a 1-3 record on the year into Saturday's contest against the Tribe after falling to Nebraska, 67-54, on Friday (Nov. 28). A trio of post players has provided the bulk of the Bulldogs' scoring and rebounding this year, with junior forward Melanie Thornton (14.8 points, 9.8 rebounds), senior center Lade Akande (13.5, 6.3) and junior forward Susan Lester (7.8, 3.8) ranking as the top three on the team in both categories. Senior guard Candace Jones and sophomore guard Brittany Bowen have been the top perimeter scorers, with both averaging 4.0 points per game, while rookie guard Devin Brierly has averaged 3.3 points per contest and posted team-highs with three treys and eight assists. Senior forward Tara Miller (2.8 ppg), sophomore guard Terra Burns (2.8) and senior guard Candyce Brown (2.5) have each added to the perimeter offense, while sophomore guard Azjah Bass and sophomore forward Chloe Hamilton provide depth off the bench.

A Look At William & Mary: The Tribe enters Saturday's contest with a 3-2 overall record after falling to host New Mexico, 68-51, on Friday (Nov. 28) evening at The Pit. Prior to last night, they had won three-straight, including a 98-38 drubbing of Norfolk State. William & Mary averages 62.6 points per contest and holds a 9.2 scoring edge over their opponents thanks in part to 6.4 three-pointers per game. Senior forward Dani Kell (11.4 points, 7.6 rebounds) and junior forward Tiffany Benson (10.0, 8.2) lead the team in scoring and rebounding, while freshman guard Janine Aldridge and senior guard Courtney Portell are the top perimeter shooters with nine three-pointers each.

The Match-Up: Butler and William & Mary have met only one other time in school history, with the Bulldogs claiming a 65-51 victory at the Coors Classic in Boulder, Colo., during the 2000-01 season.

The Last Time Out: Lade Akande scored a team-high 12 points and Melanie Thornton notched her second career double-double, but a late second-period surge by Nebraska broke-open what was a tightly-contested battle en route to a 67-54 decision over Butler in the Holiday Inn & Suites Express Midtown Thanksgiving Tournament on Friday (Nov. 28) afternoon. A wildly fast-paced affair that featured 10 lead changes throughout the duration had the Bulldogs in front by as many as six points early in the first half and down by as little as three midway through the second before the Huskers closed the game on a 19-9 run to pull away for the win.

Battle-Tested: Butler's game against Nebraska was the Bulldogs' third contest of the year against a team that reached postseason play in 2007-08. Before it's all said and done, Butler will take on eight such opponents this season, including Cleveland State, Dayton, Evansville, Green Bay, Indiana, Miami (Ohio), Nebraska and Ohio State.

Thorn-ton In Their Side: It may only be four games into the year, but junior forward Melanie Thornton is off to easily the best start of her career. After posting a career-best 18 points and seven steals against a tough Ohio State team on Nov. 14, the Carmel, Ind., native registered her first collegiate double-double at IPFW on Nov. 18, finishing with 12 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. She followed that performance by matching her season and career-high scoring total with 18 points against Dayton on Nov. 21 before picking up her second career double-double with 11 points and 10 boards against Nebraska on Nov. 28. Her 14.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per contest are tops on the team, while her 30.0 minutes played also lead the squad. Last season, Thornton averaged 3.0 points in 6.2 minutes of play per game.

...And Among The League's Best: Thornton's performance in the first four games not only has her ranked at the top of the team's stats but also have her among the best in the Horizon League. Thornton finds herself listed in the league's top-10 in six categories, including second-place rankings in rebounds and steals. She also ranks 10th in scoring.

Quite A Start: Through just four games this season, Melanie Thornton is over 80 percent of the way to matching her entire season scoring and rebounding totals from 2007-08. Her 59 total points are just 14 shy of matching her 73 scored last season, while her 39 rebounds are just eight away from her 47 boards as a sophomore. A big key to her success has been her increase in playing time, as her team-best 120 minutes played are only 28 short of her entire time on the floor last year (148).

Highway Robbery: Thornton's 16 steals in four games this season are easily the most on the team and are just five away from equaling the 21 picks she recorded in her entire first two seasons combined.

Moving Up The List: Senior Lade Akande continues her ascent up the Bulldogs' all-time scoring list. With 12 points against Nebraska on Nov. 28, the Robinson, Ill., native touts 1,414 points in her career, which ranks as the fifth-most all-time after passing both Sue Morris (1,375) and Beth Piepenbrink (1,378) a week earlier. She is now just 35 points away from passing Barb Skinner's fourth-place total of 1,448, set from 1980-83. Akande became just the 19th player in school history to notch 1,000 points in her career early last season and quickly climbed up to seventh by the end of the year. She also became the first non-senior player to reach 1,000 points in her career since Jennifer Marlow in 1997-98.

In Elite Company: Lade Akande not only ranks among the top Butler scorers, but she is also fourth on the Butler charts with 112 career blocks. Additionally, with 598 career rebounds, she is two boards shy of becoming just the fourth Bulldog player ever with at least 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 100 blocks in her career. Akande currently ranks second on the team with 6.3 rebounds per game.

Next In Line?: In her third season with the team, sophomore Susan Lester has totalled 699 points in her career, the second most among Butler's active players.

A Sign Of Things To Come: Freshman guard Devin Brierly didn't waste too much time to get started on her college career. The Hanover, Ind., native notched her first collegiate points against Ohio State on Nov. 14 hitting her second three-point attempt of the game a little over three minutes after subbing in. Four days later at IPFW, she drained a pair of treys during a critical second-half stretch to finish with 10 points while helping the Bulldogs to their first win of the year. Brierly finished her prep career at Southwestern High School with 1,278 points - the fourth-most in school history - and was presented with the team's 3-Point Award all four seasons.

The Leading Candidate: Melanie Thornton has been the Bulldogs' top rebounder this season, leading the squad in all four games this year. Her 13 at IPFW were a career-high and are tied for the second-best single-game total in the Horizon League this year.

Crime Prevention: Opponents have not had much luck picking the pockets of the Bulldogs in their first three games of the year. Butler has averaged just 11.5 turnovers per game so far this season, including season-low nine at IPFW. The Bulldogs' average puts themselves at the top of the league standings in fewest turnovers per game and is 2.5 per game fewer than their next closest rival (UIC - 14.0 per game).

Effective Assistance: Butler's 1.1 assist-to-turnover ratio is second in the Horizon League and is just .07 behind league-leading UIC (1.17 to 1.10). The Bulldogs have dished 51 assists and allowed just 46 miscues on the year.

...From Effective Helpers: Four Bulldog players find themselves ranked in the Horizon League's top-10 list in assist-to-turnover ratio heading into Saturday's game. Devin Brierly leads the team and ranks sixth in the league with a 2.7 A/T ratio (8 assists, 3 turnovers) while Candyce Brown checks in at seventh with a 2.5 A/T ratio (5, 2). Azjah Bass (4, 2) and Brittany Bowen (2, 1), meanwhile, are both tied for eighth with a 2.0 AT ratio.

Perimeter Defense: The Bulldogs have held opponents to just 3.5 three-pointers per game this season, including an 0-for-9 effort from beyond the arc against Nebraska on Nov. 28.

National Attention: The Butler women's basketball team will get national attention later in the season, as the Bulldogs' game against Wright State on Feb. 6 will be broadcast live on ESPNU beginning at 9 p.m. at Hinkle Fieldhouse. It will be the fourth time in four seasons Butler will appear on the ESPN network. The Bulldogs' appearance in the 2007 Horizon League Championship game against Green Bay was broadcast live on ESPNU, while Butler's regular season road games against the Phoenix last spring and during the 2005-06 campaign were both carried on ESPNU.

Butler Basketball On The Web: Twenty-three of the Bulldogs' games this season will feature live streaming video online. The Horizon League Network will feature 21 of those contests, including all of Butler's home games and every league road game. Additionally, the Bulldogs' match at Indiana will be streamed at BigTenNetwork.com, while its contest at Ohio State last weekend was carried on the online network.

Hard To Miss: Lade Akande was not only one of the most effective scorers in the Horizon League last year, she was also one of the most efficient shooters in the nation. Akande finished last season with a .559 field goal percentage (204-for-365), the 17th-best in the Division I rankings.

National Recognition For Passing: Tara Miller found herself among the best in the country when it came to handling the ball during the 2007-08 campaign. She finished the season ranked second in all of the NCAA Division-I with a 2.84 A/T ratio, just three hundredths of a point behind national leader Kristi Cirone of Illinois State (2.87). Miller was ranked first or second nationally in A/T ratio from Jan. 14 to the end of the year, including a 25-day stint from Jan. 14 to Feb. 7 at the top of the NCAA charts. This season, she is tied for ninth in the Horizon League with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.5.

Cleaning The Glass: Sophomore forward Susan Lester continued to be one of the best rebounders in the Horizon League in 2007-08 after finishing third in the league with 6.6 rebounds per game as a freshman. The Anderson, Ind., native finished second in the conference with 7.3 boards per game, posted nine or more rebounds on 12 occasions and totaled a team-best nine double-doubles.

Bring `Em Back: Butler returns 11 of 13 letterwinners from 2007-08, accounting for 91 percent of its scoring, 91 percent of its rebounding and 92 percent of its assists.

Talented Rookie Tandem: Butler newcomers Devin Brierly and Kaley May will both be expected to make significant contributions in their first seasons with the team. Brierly, a 5-9 guard from Southwestern High School in Hanover, Ind., was a McDonald's All-America nominee, while May, a 5-11 guard/forward from Avon (Ind.) High School, was also nominated for the national award.

Butler Tabbed Fifth In Preseason Poll: The Butler women's basketball team was picked to finish fifth in the Horizon League regular season this year according to the league's preseason poll. The Bulldogs received a total of 204 points in the poll as well as one first-place vote. Green Bay, last year's regular season champion, was the poll's top vote getter, garnering 284 total points and 24 of the 29 first-place ballots. Wright State (241 point, 1 first place vote) edged out Milwaukee (240, 2) for second place overall, while 2008 Horizon League tournament champion Cleveland State (228, 1) checked in at fourth-place.

Akande, Lester Earn Preseason Honors: For the fourth-straight season, a pair of Bulldogs earned spots on the Preseason All-Horizon League teams, as senior center Lade Akande was named to the all-league first team and junior forward Susan Lester was tabbed to the second team. Akande, a native of Robinson, Ill., earns mention on the preseason squads for the third-straight season, while Lester, a native of Anderson, Ind., receives the honor for the second time in as many years.

Crunching The Numbers: The Bulldogs' 20-10 overall mark in 2007-08 was the program's best single-season record since the 1997-98 team finished the year at 25-6. Butler's 20 victories were also the most in a single season during head coach Beth Couture's six years at the helm.

Bulldogs Ink Four For 2009-10: High school seniors Becca Bornhorst (6-1, F, Dublin, Ohio), Claire Freeman (5-9, G, Fishers, Ind.), Dragana Grbic (6-3, C, Terre Haute, Ind.) and Liz Jennings (6-1, F, Anderson, Ind.) each signed National Letters of Intent on the first day of the Early Signing Period. The quartet will attend Butler and play basketball beginning in the fall of 2009.

Next Up: Butler makes a quick stop in Indianapolis before hitting the road once again when it travels to Evansville, Ind., for an 8:00 p.m. ET (7:00 p.m. CT) contest against the Purple Aces on Wednesday, Dec. 3.