Bulldogs Return To Hinkle To Host Coastal Carolina

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GAME 7
Coastal Carolina (6-1) at Butler (2-4)
Saturday, Dec. 6 - 2:00 p.m.
Hinkle Fieldhouse - Indianapolis, Ind.

The Opening Tip: The Bulldogs return to Hinkle Fieldhouse for the first time in over two weeks when it welcomes first-time opponent Coastal Carolina to town for a 2:00 p.m. contests on Saturday (Dec. 6). After riding a strong long-range shooting performance in a convincing 70-52 victory at Evansville on Wednesday (Dec. 3), Butler will try to continue its recent success against the Chanticleers, who enter this weekend's match-up with a 6-1 record on the year.

Butler Basketball On The Web: Butler's contest against Coastal Carolina will feature live streaming video online at the Horizon League Network. Cory Stark and Mark Minner will have the call for the game, which can be viewed for free by clicking the "Watch on HLN" link on the calendar at www.ButlerSports.com. The contest will also feature live stats through Gametracker, which can be viewed by clicking the Gametracker link on www.ButlerSports.com.

The Bulldogs At A Glance: Fresh off a resurgent offensive performance in a 70-52 victory at Evansville on Wednesday (Dec. 3), Butler returns to Hinkle Fieldhouse to host Coastal Carolina with a 2-4 record on the year. The Bulldogs have battled through a tough opening part of the non-league slate that featured three teams that advanced to post season play last year, including nationally-ranked Ohio State in the season-opener. While the Butler offense has started to come around of late, a strong defense has carried the Bulldogs during the year, as the team ranks fourth in the Horizon League by allowing an average of just 62 points per game. A trio of post players has provided the bulk of the Bulldogs' scoring and rebounding this year, with junior Melanie Thornton (13.7 points, 10.2 rebounds), senior Lade Akande (11.8, 6.8) and junior Susan Lester (8.7, 5.8) ranking as the top three on the team in both categories. The perimeter players have stepped up their game in recent games, as sophomore Brittany Bowen (5.0 points), freshman Devin Brierly (4.8) and seniors Candace Jones (4.8) and Tara Miller (3.7) have combined for 20 of the team's 29 three-pointers this season. Sophomore Terra Burns and senior Candyce Brown have strong perimeter defense and ample passing, while sophomores Azjah Bass and Chloe Hamilton provide depth off the bench.

A Look At Coastal Carolina: The Chanticleers enter the weekend with a 6-1 record this season after winning four-straight games to open the season before falling for the only time to the College of Charleston. Since then, CCU has won its last two meetings, including a 64-31 triumph over Coker on Saturday (Nov. 30). Coastal Carolina has used stifling defense to hold its foes to just 49.4 points per contest while holding a 14.1 point scoring advantage on the year. Three players average double-digit scoring on the year, with junior guard Amanda Stull leading the way with 11.1 points per contest. Sophomore forward Sydnei Moss paces the team with 7.6 rebounds per game, while sophomore guard Kate Jasinski averages a team-best 3.3 assists per game.

Battle-Tested: Butler will take on eight teams this season that reached post season play in 2007-08, including Cleveland State, Dayton, Evansville, Green Bay, Indiana, Miami (Ohio), Nebraska and Ohio State. The Bulldogs picked up its first win over such a team on Wednesday (Dec. 3), defeating Evansville, 70-52.

Long-Range Barrage Sinks Aces: Melanie Thornton and Lade Akande each notched double-doubles and the Butler perimeter offense jumped for a season-best 10 three-pointers as the Bulldogs rolled to a convincing 70-52 victory over host Evansville on Wednesday (Dec. 3) at Roberts Stadium. Thornton led the way with 17 points and 12 boards for her third double-double of the season, while Akande chipped in 10 points and 11 rebounds for her first of the year. Meanwhile, after collecting just 19 threes through its first five games of the season, the Bulldogs erupted for a season-high 10 on 47.6 percent shooting from long range (10-for-21) to help boost Butler to its second win of the year.

Offense From Downtown: Butler's 10 three-pointers at Evansville were quite a sight for sore eyes. In fact, the Bulldogs' output was more than half of the team's entire season total entering the game (19). It was also the first time the team tallied double-figure treys since putting up 10 against Valparaiso on March 8 of last season.

...But The Best Offense: Is a great defense. The 52 points Butler allowed to the Purple Aces on Wednesday was a single-game low for an opponent this year. The Bulldogs have held three opponents to under 60 points this year (IPFW - 56, William & Mary - 53) and their 62.0 points allowed per game is the fourth-lowest average in the Horizon League.

In Elite Company: Senior center Lade Akande has assembled one of the finest careers in school history during her three-plus years on the team. In fact, just last weekend, she accomplished something that only three other Butler players have ever done. Her five rebounds against William & Mary gave pushed her career rebounding total to 603, making her just the fourth player in Bulldogs history to record over 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 100 blocks in their career. She currently touts 1,431 points, 614 rebounds and 114 blocks in her three-plus seasons.

Thornton In Their Side: Melanie Thornton has not had much of a let down in any one of her six games this year. The Carmel, Ind., has registered five double-figure scoring efforts and four double-digit rebounding performances while posting three double-doubles - the first of her collegiate career. Her 18 points scored against Ohio State and Dayton and her 13 rebounds at IPFW are career-highs. She currently leads the team with 13.7 points and 10.2 rebounds per contest.

Quite A Start: Through just six games this season, Melanie Thornton has already put together a year to remember. Her 82 points scored are nine more than she scored during her entire 2007-08 campaign (73), while her 61 rebounds are 14 more than she pulled in during her junior year (47). A big reason for the gaudy numbers has been her increase in playing time, as her 184 minutes played tops her previous year's mark (148) by 36.

Highway Robbery: Thornton's 22 steals in six games this season are easily the most on the team and are already more than she recorded in her entire first two seasons combined (21).

Among The League's Best: Thornton's performance in the first six 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. She finds herself listed in the league's top-10 in six categories, including a first-place ranking in rebounds and a second-place mark in steals.

Moving Up The Scoring List: Lade Akande continues her ascent up the Bulldogs' all-time scoring list. After notching 10 points at Evansville on Dec. 3, she touts 1,431 points in her career: the fifth-most all-time after passing both Sue Morris (1,375) and Beth Piepenbrink (1,378) two weeks earlier. She is now just 18 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.

...Among Other Lists: By pulling in 41 rebounds so far this season, Lade Akande has moved up into ninth place on the Bulldogs' career rebounding chart with 614, passing both Julie Schrader (591) and Kelly Kuhn (593). Akande also finds herself ranked in four other categories, including blocks (114 - 4th) and field goals made (589 - 5th).

1,000 On The Radar: In her third season with the team, sophomore Susan Lester has totalled 720 points in her career, the second most among Butler's active players. She already finds herself on the Bulldogs' career three-pointers-made list, checking in at 10th with 84.

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. Since then, she has drained seven more treys and currently leads the team and ranks eighth in the Horizon League with 1.3 threes per game. Additionally, her .421 three-point percentage is tops on the squad and ranks sixth in the conference. 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.

Crime Prevention: Opponents have not had much luck picking the pockets of the Bulldogs in their first five games of the year. Butler has averaged just 12.5 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 3.3 per game fewer than their next closest rival (UIC - 15.8 per game).

Effective Assistance: Butler's 1.1 assist-to-turnover ratio leads the Horizon League and is .08 ahead of runner-up UIC (1.09 to 1.01). The Bulldogs have dished 82 assists and allowed just 75 miscues on the year.

...From Effective Helpers: Three Bulldog players find themselves ranked in the Horizon League's top-10 list in assist-to-turnover ratio heading into Saturday's game. Senior Candyce Brown leads the team and ranks second in the Horizon League with a 3.3 A/T ratio, while freshman Devin Brierly checks in at 5th in the conference with a 2.4 A/T ratio. Sophomore Azjah Bass, meanwhile, is tied for sixth in the league with a ratio of 2.0.

The Leading Candidate: Melanie Thornton has been the Bulldogs' top rebounder this season, leading the squad in all six 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.

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 on ESPNU.

Butler Basketball On The Web: Twenty-three of the Bulldogs' games this season will feature free 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 was carried on the online network.

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.

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.

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.

Butler Tabbed Fifth In Preseason Poll: Butler 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.

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 next fall.

Next Up: Butler heads south to Bloomington, Ind., on Tuesday (Dec. 9) for a 7:00 p.m. contest against the Hoosiers.