December 11, 2008

Bulldogs Tangle With Host Redhawks On Saturday

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GAME 9
Butler (3-5) at Miami (6-2)
Saturday, Dec. 13 - 2:00 p.m. ET
Millett Hall - Oxford, Ohio

The Opening Tip: Butler will try to rebound from a tough defeat at Indiana on Tuesday when it heads to Oxford, Ohio this weekend for a 2:00 p.m. contest with Miami (Ohio) on Saturday (Dec. 13) at Millett Hall. The Redhawks, who take a 6-2 record into the game, will be the sixth team the Bulldogs face this season that advanced to post-season play a year ago.

Butler Basketball On The Web: Butler's game against the Redhawks will feature live stats through Gametracker and can be accessed by clicking on the Gametracker link next to the game on the women's basketball schedule at www.ButlerSports.com.

The Bulldogs At A Glance: Butler heads to Miami with a 3-5 record on the year after falling in a tough, 63-41, contest at Indiana on Tuesday (Dec. 9). Prior to that, the Bulldogs had posted back-to-back convincing victories over Evansville (70-52) and Coastal Carolina (78-48). Butler has battled through a challenging non-league schedule thus far that featured five teams that advanced to post-season play in 2007-08, including nationally-ranked Ohio State, Dayton, Nebraska, Evansville and IU. A trio of post players has provided the bulk of the Bulldogs' scoring and rebounding this year, with junior Melanie Thornton (12.9 points, 9.0 rebounds), senior Lade Akande (12.8, 7.1) and junior Susan Lester (8.1, 5.3) ranking as the top three on the team in both categories. The perimeter players have stepped up their game recently, as senior Candace Jones (5.4 points), sophomore Brittany Bowen (4.9) and freshman Devin Brierly (3.6) have combined for 22 of the team's 38 three pointers made. Sophomore Terra Burns and seniors Candyce Brown and Tara Miller have added steady offense and strong defense on the perimeter, while sophomores Azjah Bass and Chloe Hamilton provide depth off the bench.

A Look At The Redhawks: Miami carries a 6-2 record into Saturday's game after winning its last four contests, including a 69-66 overtime thriller at Dayton on Wednesday (Dec. 10) afternoon. The Redhawks average over 68 points per contest and have out-scored their opponents by an average of 6.4 points thanks in part to a .417 field goal percentage (207-for-497) and 6.0 three-pointers per game. Three players average double-figure points, including senior guard Jenna Schone who boasts a team-high 16.1 points per game as well as a team-best 5.0 assists per contest. Senior forward Jaclyn Leininger touts a team-high 6.9 rebounds and averages 11.0 points.

The Series History: Butler and Miami will meet for the 12th time in program history on Saturday, with the Redhawks holding a commanding 10-1 advantage in the all-time series that dates back to the 1988-89 season. Butler's lone victory came in the 1998-99 campaign, with the Bulldogs picking up a 68-58 decision in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Since then, Miami has won seven in a row, including an 88-72 decision at Millett Hall during the 2005-06 season.

Battle-Tested: Miami will be the sixth team the Bulldogs will face this year that reached post-season play in 2007-08. Butler will match up with eight such teams this season, including Cleveland State, Dayton, Evansville, Green Bay, Indiana, Miami (Ohio), Nebraska and Ohio State. Miami won the Mid-American Conference tournament championship to advance to the NCAA Tournament in 2008.

Indiana Shoots Past Butler: A 14-1 Indiana run late in the opening period broke open what had been a closely-contested battle through the first 15 minutes, as the host Hoosiers claimed a 63-41 decision over Butler at Assembly Hall on Tuesday (Dec. 9) evening. The Bulldogs came out looking much stronger in the second half, as the defense held the Hoosiers to just nine field goals in the entire final period, but the effort would not be enough to overcome the large hole created in the opening stanza. Lade Akande finished with 10 points and a team-high six rebounds, while Susan Lester added a pair of treys to finish with 10 points of her own.

Akande Earns Weekly Honor: After supplying a huge boost in a pair of dominant wins for the Bulldogs last week, senior center Lade Akande was named the Horizon League's Women's Basketball Player of the Week. She notched her first double-double of the year with 10 points and 11 rebounds at Evansville on Wednesday (Dec. 3) in helping the Bulldogs to a convincing 70-52 win over the Purple Aces. Three days later (Dec. 6), she went for a season-high 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting and chipped in a game-high 10 boards while leading Butler to a blow-out 78-48 victory over Coastal Carolina.

Keeping Up With Jones: It's been a hard thing to do lately. Senior Candace Jones played a huge role in the Bulldogs' long-distance scoring in the last week. The Indianapolis native went 4-for-7 from beyond the arc for 13 points at Evansville before hitting 4-of-5 from long range for 12 points against Coastal Carolina. Her nine treys on the year are tops on the team.

Bench Dominance: A big reason for the Bulldogs' success this year has been due to the strong play of the bench. Butler has out-scored its opponents in bench scoring in all but one game this year and averages over 11 points more points per game than its foes (24.6 to 13.3). In fact, the Bulldog bench has accounted for nearly 42 percent of its scoring this year (197 of 470 points).

Thornton In Their Side: Melanie Thornton has not had much of a let down in any one of her eight 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 12.9 points and 9.0 rebounds per contest.

Quite A Start: Through just eight games this season, Melanie Thornton has already put together a year to remember. So far this season, she leads the team with 103 points, 72 rebounds and 223 minutes played - all of which are already well over her entire season totals from 2007-08 (73 points, 47 rebounds, 148 minutes played).

Highway Robbery: Thornton's 24 steals 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 eight 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 third-place mark in steals.

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, this year she accomplished something that only three other Butler players have ever done. Her five rebounds against William & Mary 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 1,462 points, 630 rebounds and 117 blocks in her three-plus seasons.

Moving Up The Scoring List: Lade Akande continues her ascent up the Bulldogs' all-time scoring list. After notching 10 points at Indiana on Tuesday, she touts 1,462 points in her career: the fourth-most all-time after passing Barb Skinner (1,448) a week ago. She is now just 24 points away from moving into third past Jennifer Marlow (1,485) and has a good chance at passing Elza Purvlicis (1,517) for second all-time. First place is a ways off, however, as Julie VonDielingen holds the school record with 2,018 points. 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 Marlow in 1997-98.

...Among Other Lists: By pulling in 57 rebounds so far this season, Lade Akande has moved up into ninth place on the Bulldogs' career rebounding chart with 630 and is just 29 shy of passing both Sue Morris (657) and Liesl Schultz (658) for seventh all time. Akande also finds herself ranked in four other categories, including blocks (117 - 4th) and field goals made (602 - 3rd).

1,000 On The Radar: In her third season with the team, sophomore Susan Lester has totalled 733 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 87.

Crime Prevention: Opponents have not had much luck picking the pockets of the Bulldogs in their first seven games of the year. Butler has averaged just 14.0 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 1.8 per game fewer than their next closest rival (UIC - 15.8 per game).

...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. Senior Candyce Brown leads the team and ranks third in the Horizon League with a 2.2 A/T ratio. Sophomore Brittany Bowen ranks sixth with a 1.8 A/T ratio, senior Tara Miller checks in at seventh with a 1.7 mark and freshman Devin Brierly finds herself in eighth with a 1.6 A/T ratio.

Effective Assistance: Butler currently leads the Horizon League with a 1.0 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Bulldogs have dished 108 assists and allowed 112 miscues on the year.

30-Something: The Bulldogs' 78-48 victory over Coastal Carolina was the program's largest margin of victory since defeating Youngstown State, 79-45, on Feb. 14, 2004.

Downtown Living: What a difference some downtown shooting makes. After struggling to just 19 three-pointers through the first five games of the season (3.8 per contest), the Bulldogs have connected for 19 in their last three outings (6.3), including a season-high 10 at Evansville on Dec. 3. The added long-range effort helped the Bulldogs average nearly seven points more in the last three games than they had in the previous five (63.0 to 56.2).

...But The Best Offense: Is a great defense. Butler ranks fourth in the Horizon League by allowing its foes just 60.4 points per game. Last week, the Bulldogs limited Evansville to a then-season-low 52 points on 16 field goals on Dec. 3 before smothering Coastal Carolina to a miniscule 48 points on 15 field goals on Dec. 6. Most recently, Butler held host Indiana to just 24 second-half points on nine field goals en route to holding the Hoosiers nearly seven points below their season average entering the game (69.7).

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 is currently second on the team with 1.0 threes per game. Additionally, her .333 three-point percentage is 10th in the Horizon League. 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.

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.

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.

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 will have an eight-day break for finals before returning to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Dec. 22 to host Indiana State beginning at noon.