First Place On The Line Saturday At Hinkle

First Place On The Line Saturday At Hinkle

2009-10 Butler Women's Basketball
Butler (19-7, 12-3 HL) vs. Green Bay (23-3, 12-3 HL) 

Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010 - 2 p.m. ET
Indianapolis, Ind. - Hinkle Fieldhouse


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PROMOTION: Senior Day (Melanie Thornton, Susan Lester, Amie Kabara, Stephanie Scott)


First Place On The Line Saturday At Hinkle

First place in the league standings is on the line Saturday as the Butler women's basketball team hosts Green Bay. Both teams are 12-3 in the Horizon League and are aiming for a one game lead with two games left. The Bulldogs, 59-41 winners over Milwaukee Thursday night, have won seven straight games and 10 of their last 11.


The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines

1. First Place Showdown: Saturday's winner will own first place in the Horizon League standings outright. Butler and Green Bay are each 12-3 in league play, a half-game ahead of 12-4 Detroit. The Butler-Green Bay winner will have a one game lead in the standings with two games left to play. The Bulldogs are aiming for their first Horizon League regular season title since 1997-98 and third in school history.

2. Hot Stretch: Butler has won 10 of its last 11 games, including seven straight. Over the last 11 games, Butler is shooting .460 from the floor (.335 from 3) and winning by an average margin of +13.6. Eight of the team's nine rotation players are shooting at least .381 during the stretch. Defensively, BU is allowing just 54.6 points per game, including holding five opponents to less than 50 points. 

3. Senior Day 2010: Not only is Butler playing for the upper hand in the Horizon League standings, the Dogs will also find inspiration playing with their three seniors  - Melanie Thornton, Susan Lester and Amie Kabara - on Senior Day. The trio has played on teams that have gone 75-44 and went to the WNIT last year. Lester is among the school's all-time leaders in scoring (12th) and rebounds (6th) while Thornton is stands 5th in BU history in blocks and 10th in steals. BU will also recognize senior manager Stephanie Scott.

4. Stat Sheet Stuffer: Senior forward Melanie Thornton's athleticism has allowed her to contribute all over the floor this season. Thornton leads the team and ranks second in the Horizon League with 15.3 points per game. She is also among the league leaders in rebounding (4th, 8.4), steals (5th, 2.1) and blocks (2nd, 1.7). She is the only player in the league to rank in the top 5 in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals. The 6-foot-1 senior has put up nine double-doubles this season, and four in the last five games. Thornton is averaging 15.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.0 blocks while shooting .518 over the last seven games.

5. Butler In The National Rankings: The Bulldogs' stellar season has earned them several mentions in the NCAA Division I statistical rankings. In the latest NCAA rankings, BU is top 30 in FG percentage (43.8), top 45 in win-loss percentage (.731), and top 50 in turnover margin (2.72).


Butler vs. Green Bay: Green Bay has gotten the best of Butler in recent years, defeating the Bulldogs 27 times in a row. BU's last win in the series came on Jan. 9, 1999 when the Dogs won 85-80 in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Green Bay is 33-7 all-time vs. BU.

First Meeting With GB: Butler's comeback fell short in a 73-62 loss at Green Bay on Jan. 28. BU found itself down by 24 early in the second half but pulled to within 70-62 late. Chloe Hamilton led Butler with 16 points and seven rebounds. Green Bay's Julie Wojta had 23 points.

Couture Ties Wins Record: Beth Couture, with 124 victories at Butler, has now tied the school record for victories. Couture has now matched Linda Mason,  who coached at BU from 1976-84.

More On Mel: Melanie Thornton ranks in the top seven in the Horizon League in six different categories (see page 4). Thornton has at least 10 points in 19 of her last 20 games, and she has scored at least eight points in each game she has played this season. The senior has double-doubles in four of the last five games, including an 18-10 night vs. UWM on Thursday. Thornton, who has nine double-doubles this season, is averaging 16.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.8 blocks in league play this season.

...Mel Moving Up: Melanie Thornton is fifth in BU history with 116 blocked shots, 23 short for fourth in school history. She is also 10th in school histroy with 143 career steals.

Ball Control: Butler has taken good care of the ball this season, in the country's top 60 (second in the HL) with just 16.1 turnovers per game. Eight times this season, the Bulldogs have committed 14 turnovers or less. The Horizon League average is 17.4 turnovers per contest. BU is also second in the HL with a +2.72 turnover margin.

Claire's A Big Shot: Although just a freshman, Claire Freeman has a track record of hitting big shots. Her jumper with 0.6 seconds left was the difference in BU's 71-70 win at UWM on Jan. 30. In high school last year, Freeman hit a shot with :03 left to win the IHSAA 2A state title for Heritage Christian.

Lineup Change Paying Off: Following Butler's 13-point loss at Cleveland State on Jan. 14, Beth Couture changed the starting lineup. The change has paid off, as the Bulldogs are 10-1 and shooting .460 from the floor since the switch. 

Sharpshooters: As a team, Butler charts second in the HL and top 30 in the country with a .438 field goal percentage this season. The Bulldogs, who have shot 50 percent six times this season, converted on 53.5 percent (32-for-60) of its shots vs. Youngstown State on Feb. 11.

Stop Them Early: Green Bay shot 75 percent (18-for-24) in the first half against Butler on Jan. 28. The hot shooting helped GB build a 43-23 halftime lead. BU held the Phoenix to 34.8 percent shooting (8-for-23) in the second half.

Depending On Defense: Butler's defense has been the primary factor in whether BU wins or not. In 19 Butler victories, the Bulldogs are holding opponents to 53.4 points and .358 field goal shooting. In seven BU losses, the team is giving up 77.9 points per game and allowing 48 percent shooting.

In Butler's Defense: Butler has now held eight opponents under 50 points this season, winning all eight games. The Bulldogs are also 12-0 when holding teams to less than 60 points.

Chloe Solid At The ‘4': Chloe Hamilton, who has started all 26 games this season, scored 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting at Detroit last week. The junior scored a career-best 16 points in her first career double-double vs. Wright State on Jan. 21. She also had 16 points at Green Bay on Jan. 28. Over the last 11 games, Hamilton is averaging 9.3 points and shooting .583 from the floor. 

Just Make Shots: Sometimes basketball is simple: just make shots. Butler is 17-0 when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. The Dogs are 2-7 when the other team shoots better. 

Pitt Heating Up: Alyssa Pittman, who has made 205 career 3-pointers, is giving Butler the scoring the team has been looking for lately. The junior, who hit three big 3s last week at UDM, scored 16 points on 7-fo-11 shooting vs. Milwaukee. ‘Pitt' is BU's second leading scorer in HL play (10.0 ppg) and is shooting 9-for-15 over the last two games.

Susan Moving Up: Susan Lester continues to climb several career-record lists at Butler. Lester is now 12th on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,194 points. She is now sixth all-time with 742 rebounds and fifth in both 3-pointers made (132) and attempted (394).

Susan Being A Senior: Susan Lester has made key plays down the stretch in recent games. She made two FTs with two big rebounds and a block in the final 1:55 against Cleveland State on Feb. 13. Lester had two putbacks with Butler trailing late and added another bucket with 0:33 left to help the Bulldogs win at UDM. She also made two free throws in overtime at Wright State with Butler down one.

...And Making Her FTs: Susan Lester ranks fourth in the Horizon League in free throw percentage (.833). The senior, a career .805 shooter at the line, has made 26 of her last 28 foul shots dating back to Jan. 16.

3 Straight 20s: Butler is one win shy of picking up its third consecutive 20-win season. It will be the first time since 1979-82 that BU has posted 20 wins for three years in a row. It would also mark the 13th 20-win season in Butler women's basketball history.

‘Terra-fic' At The Point: Much of the credit for Butler's low turnover numbers could go to point guard Terra Burns. The junior had a career-high nine assists against zero turnovers vs. Cleveland State on Feb. 13 and added four assists to one turnover at Detroit. Burns, who also had 12 points against the Vikings, has 48 assists against just 19 turnovers over the last 11 games.

Comeback Kids: In three of BU's last four games, the Dogs have had to make a late rally to win. Butler was down 66-61 with 4:38 to go before rallying with 11 straight points for a 72-66 win. Detroit led BU 60-55 with 3:49 left before the Dogs finished the game on a 17-2 run. Last Saturday, BU trailed by 13 in the second half before winning in OT.

Winning Ways At Butler: At 19-7 with a minimum of four games to play, Butler has clinched its fifth straight winning season. After going 14-14 in 2004-05, Butler posted records of 15-14, 16-15 and 20-10, respectively, before finishing 20-12 last season. 

Start Me Up: Butler is 14-1 in the 15 games in which Devin Brierly has started this season. She has started the last 11 games (10-1) as well as four non-conference wins. Melanie Thornton is 17-4 as a starter and Claire Freeman is 12-3.

X-Factor: Alyssa Pittman is averaging 11.8 points per game over the last four games and is coming off one of her best offensive nights of the season, a 16-point effort vs. Milwaukee. Pittman went 3-for-14 in the first game against Green Bay, but most of those were tough shots when BU was trailing.