December 26, 2008

Bulldogs Close Non-League Slate Against Christian Brothers Monday

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GAME 11
Christian Brothers (6-4) at Butler (4-6)
Monday, Dec. 29 - 7:00 p.m.
Hinkle Fieldhouse - Indianapolis, Ind.

The Opening Tip: Butler plays for the final time in 2008 as it takes on the last of its non-league opponents in Christian Brothers University on Monday (Dec. 29) beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Bulldogs will try to end the year on a winning note before heading into the Horizon League campaign the following weekend, while the Lady Bucs will play for the fifth win in their last six games.

Butler Basketball On The Web: Butler's contest against Christian Brothers will feature live streaming video online at the Horizon League Network. Mark Minner and Carl Heck 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: The Bulldogs will attempt to close the non-league season on a winning note when they take on the Lady Bucs on Monday (Dec. 29). Butler has battled through a challenging non-conference schedule that has featured six teams that advanced to post-season play in 2007-08, including nationally-ranked Ohio State, Dayton, Nebraska, Evansville, Indiana and Miami (Ohio). A duo of post players has been the driving force behind the team this season, as senior Lade Akande (13.2 points, 6.8 rebounds) and junior Melanie Thornton (12.7, 8.8) leading the team in both points and rebounds. Success on the perimeter has been the team's critical element, however, as the Bulldogs' four wins have come only after scoring at least five three pointers. Sophomore Brittany Bowen (8.2 points, 14 three-pointers), junior Susan Lester (7.0, 8), senior Candace Jones (4.6, 10) and freshman Devin Brierly (4.5, 11) have helped the Bulldogs average 7.0 threes in their last five games. 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 Lady Bucs: Christian Brothers heads into Monday's contest with a 6-4 record on the season after falling in a 71-65 contest to Indianapolis. Prior to that, the Lady Bucs had won four straight. CBU has used solid out-side shooting that averages seven threes per game to aid it in scoring nearly 70 points per contest. Despite the high offensive output, Sophomore guard Tanaeya Worden is the only player who averages double-figure points per game (14.6). Senior forward Michelle Malone checks in at second with 9.1 points per contest, while sophomore forward Sheena DeBose leads the way with 5.2 boards per game.

Nice To Meet You: The Bulldogs and Lady Bucs will be meeting for the first time in school history when they two teams play on Monday. It will be Butler's fourth game of the year against a first-time foe. Coastal Carolina, Nebraska and Ohio State were the others.

Battle-Tested: Butler will match up with eight teams this season that advanced to post-season play during the 2007-08 campaign, including Cleveland State, Dayton, Evansville, Green Bay, Indiana, Miami (Ohio), Nebraska and Ohio State. So far, the Bulldogs have picked up wins against two such foes, including a 70-52 win at Evansville and an 86-81, double-overtime victory at Miami (Ohio).

Sycamores Hold Off Butler Late: The Bulldogs continued their recent success from the perimeter - hitting eight three-pointers, including a team-high four from Brittany Bowen - but an even more impressive long range performance by Indiana State helped the Sycamores rally back from a seven-point first-half deficit to claim a 66-63 decision at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Dec. 22). The Bulldogs had as much as a seven point lead early in the game, but a couple of late rallies helped the visiting Sycamores pull away in the end. Bowen led the team with 18 points thanks in part to her four treys.

Bowen To No One: Brittany Bowen has been the Bulldogs' top offensive performer in the last two games, averaging 21.5 points per contest while hitting a total of nine three-pointers. She tallied the most impressive single-game performance of her career at Miami (Ohio) on Dec. 22, going 8-for-10 from the field, 5-for-6 from three-point range and 4-of-4 from the free throw line to post a career-high 25 points against the RedHawks. Her eight field goals made, five treys made and 39 minutes played were all career-bests, while her eight rebounds tied her career mark. She followed that effort by scoring 18 points against Indiana State, hitting 6-of-13 from the field and 4-of-8 from beyond the arc.

Reign Of Threes: While dominant post play has become a trademark of the Bulldogs this season, their ability to score from beyond the arc has been crucial to their success. Butler boasts a 4-2 record when sinking at least five three-pointers in a game and has averaged 7.5 treys in its four victories - compared to 4.0 in its six defeats.

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 13 points more points per game than its foes (26.4 to 12.8). In fact, the Bulldog bench has accounted for over 42 percent of its scoring this year (264 of 619 points).

Thornton In Their Side: Melanie Thornton has not had much of a let down in any one of her games this year. The Carmel, Ind., has registered six double-figure scoring efforts and five double-digit rebounding performances while posting four 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 8.8 rebounds per contest and is second with 12.7 points per game.

Quite A Start: Through just 10 games this season, Melanie Thornton has already put together a year to remember. Her 127 points, 88 rebounds and 283 minutes played are already well over her entire season totals from 2007-08 (73 points, 47 rebounds, 148 minutes played) and are quickly approaching her career totals entering the season (176, 141, 488).

Highway Robbery: Thornton's 30 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 10 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 blocks.

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 1,492 points, 641 rebounds and 120 blocks in her career.

Moving Up The Scoring List: Lade Akande continues her ascent up the Bulldogs' all-time scoring list. After notching nine points against Indiana State on Dec. 22, she touts 1,492 points in her career - the third-most all-time after passing Jennifer Marlow's total of 1,485. Akande now needs just 26 points to overtake Elza Purvlicis (1,517) for second all-time, but first place is a ways off, 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 68 rebounds so far this season, Lade Akande stands in ninth place on the Bulldogs' career rebounding chart with 641 and is just 18 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 (120 - 4th) and field goals made (612 - 3rd).

1,000 On The Radar: In her third season with the team, sophomore Susan Lester has totalled 738 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 88.

Taking Advantage Of Charity: It's not a bad thing. Susan Lester currently leads the team by hitting 90 percent of her shots from the free throw line (18-for-20).

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 15.9 turnovers per game so far this season, including season-low nine at IPFW. The Bulldogs' average puts them in third place in the league standings in fewest turnovers per game.

...From Effective Helpers: Two 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 2.8 A/T ratio, while senior Tara Miller is in a ninth-place tie with a 1.3 A/T ratio. The Bulldogs currently rank second in the league with a 0.9 A/T ratio.

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 35 in their last five outings (7.0), including a season-high 10 at Evansville on Dec. 3. The added long-range effort helped the Bulldogs average over 11 points more in the last five games than they had in the previous five (67.6 to 56.2).

A Sign Of Things To Come: Freshman Devin Brierly didn't waste too much time to get started on her college career. The Hanover, Ind., native notched her first collegiate points on a three-pointer against Ohio State on Nov. 14 just minutes after subbing in. She currently ranks second on the team with 11 treys this year and is ninth in the conference with a .355 three-point percentage. Brierly finished her prep career at Southwestern High School with 1,278 points - the fourth-most in school history - and received the team's 3-Point Award all four years.

Extra, Extra: The Bulldogs double-overtime victory over Miami was the program's first win in extra time since defeating UIC in the semifinals of the 2007 Horizon League Championship and its first double-OT win since topping (coincidentally enough) UIC on Feb. 1, 1996.

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.

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' games at Ohio State and Indiana were both streamed live on BigTenNetwork.com.

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 opens up the New Year and Horizon League play over the weekend when it welcomes reigning league tournament champion Cleveland State to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday (Jan. 3) beginning at 2:00 p.m.