2009-10 Butler Women's Basketball
Butler (12-6, 5-2 HL) vs. #24 Green Bay (16-2, 5-2 HL)
Thursday, January 28, 2010 - 8 p.m.
Green Bay, Wis. - Kress Center
WBCA PINK ZONE BREAST CANCER AWARENESS GAME- Feb. 13 - 2 p.m.
Bulldogs Have Key League Game At Green Bay Thursday
The Butler women's basketball team, in a four-way tie for first in the Horizon League, will try to improve its championship chances with Thursday evening's game at Green Bay. The Bulldogs have won three straight by double figures to pull to 5-2 in the HL, while Green Bay dropped a pair to fall to 5-2. Nobody in the league played Green Bay as tough as BU last year, with the Phoenix beating BU twice by five.
The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. Crowded At The Top: The Bulldogs and Phoenix are two of the Horizon League's four teams tied atop the league standings at 5-2. Butler has won three straight - all by at least 16 points - while Green Bay dropped two games in Chicago last weekend. Thursday's winner will have an edge down the stretch, while Detroit and Cleveland State play each other Saturday.
2. 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 third in the Horizon League with 15.5 points per game, and she is also among the league leaders in rebounding (4th, 8.1), steals (3rd, 2.3) and blocks (2nd, 1.5). Last weekend, the 6-foot-1 senior averaged 13.5 points and 6.5 boards, highlighted by a double-double (17 pts, 10 rebs) vs. Detroit on Jan. 23.
3. Depending On Defense: Butler's defense has been the primary factor in whether BU wins or not. In 12 Butler victories, the Bulldogs are holding opponents to 53.2 points and .361 field goal shooting. In six BU losses, the team is giving up 78.7 points per game and allowing 47.1 percent shooting. The Bulldogs are 8-0 when yielding less than 60 points, and 0-5 when giving up more than 70.
4. Coach Couture's Battle: BU head coach Beth Couture successfully battled breast cancer during the offseason, and as of two weeks ago she is officially cancer-free. She was diagnosed last April and after 16 weeks of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation treatments, Couture is back on the sideline for her 8th season at Butler. Couture's last treatment came just days before the season opener at Kentucky. Butler's WBCA Pink Zone game for breast cancer awareness is Saturday, Feb. 13 vs. Cleveland State.
5. The Wisconsin Trip: When the league schedule comes out each year, every coach in the Horizon League looks to see when his team travels to Wisconsin to play Green Bay and Milwaukee. Like most teams, the Bulldogs have struggled in the state against those two teams, owning a 3-17 record since 2000. Butler's lone win at Green Bay came in 1998.
Butler vs. Green Bay: Green Bay has gotten the best of Butler in recent years, defeating the Bulldogs 26 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 32-7 all-time vs. BU.
BU Looking For A Ranked Win: Facing No. 24 Green Bay, Butler is aiming for its first win vs. a ranked team since Nov. 24, 1990 when it beat No. 11 Vanderbilt 91-88.
Couture Chasing Wins Record: With wins in the last three games, Beth Couture moved past June Olkowski (1993-99) for second place on Butler's all-time wins list with 117. She is just seven victories shy of Linda Mason's (1976-84) school-record 124 wins. BU's win over Wright State on Jan. 21 was Couture's 600th career game as a college head coach. She is 375-226 in her 21-year career.
More On Mel: Melanie Thornton ranks in the top four in the Horizon League in five different categories (see page 4). Thornton has at least 10 points in each of the last 12 games, and she has scored at least nine points in each game she has played this season. The senior had 24 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and three blocks against UIC on Jan. 4. Thornton, who has five double-doubles this season, is averaging 17.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.3 steals in league play this season.
...Mel Moving Up List: Thornton is sixth in BU history with 98 blocked shots and needs seven more to catch Kelly Kuhn (1997-01) for fifth in school history.
Ball Control: Butler has taken good care of the ball this season, ranking 44th in the country (second in the HL) with just 15.8 turnovers per game. Six times this season, the Bulldogs have committed 14 turnovers or less. The Horizon League average is 17.6 turnovers per contest. BU is also second in the HL with a +3.3 turnover margin.
Sharpshooters: As a team Butler chart 41st (second in the HL) in the country with a .437 field goal percentage. The Bulldogs, who have shot 50 percent four times this season, have converted 50.9 percent of their shots (84-for-165) over the past three games.
Sharpest Shooter: Brittany Bowen, who is second on the team with 13.4 points per game, ranks third in the league and 30th in the country in field goal percentage (.533). Her shooting percentage is third in the nation among players listed as a guard. The junior guard is also shooting .820 at the foul line and .429 from 3-point range.
Pitt Heating Up: Alyssa Pittman, who has made 188 career 3-pointers, is giving Butler the scoring the team has been looking for lately. Pittman averaged 14.5 points and shot 7-for-13 from 3-point range in two games last weekend. The junior, who scored 23 points at Dayton on Dec. 21, is averaging 12.3 points a game over the past four games.
Just Make Shots: Sometimes basketball is simple: just make shots. Butler is 11-0 when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. The Dogs are 1-6 when the other team shoots better.
Different Lineup, Different Defense: After giving up 81 points at Cleveland State, Beth Couture inserted a different starting lineup to shore up the team's perimeter defense. The change has paid off over the last three games. Butler held Youngstown State to a season-low 14 points in the first half and forced 23 turnovers vs. Wright State. BU then held Detroit to a opponent season-low 25.5 percent shooting.
Chloe Solid At The ‘4': Chloe Hamilton, who has started all 18 games this season, had her first career double-double vs. Wright State with 16 points and 10 rebounds. She also has two 12-point games this season.
Susan Moving Up: Susan Lester continues to climb several career-record lists at Butler. Lester is now 14th on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,134 points. She is now sixth all-time with 695 rebounds at BU and fifth in both 3-pointers made (131) and attempted (384).
Tall Dogs: This year's Butler roster is the tallest squad since Beth Couture arrived on campus in 2002. BU's average height is 5-10 2/3, just a bit taller than the 2007 team.
Bowen At The FT Line: Brittany Bowen, a career .820 free throw shooter, made 25 foul shots in a row before missing one vs. UIC on Jan 4. She is 37-for-42 dating back to November 21 at Saint Louis.
Defending Well In First Half: In recent weeks, Butler has renewed its commitment to defending well at the starts of games. BU's opponents are averaging just 27.8 points in the first half this season. The Bulldogs have held eight opponents to less than 25 points in the first half: IPFW (21 points), UNI (16), Evansville (20), Miami (24), ISU (23), Loyola (21), Valparaiso (20) and Detroit (18).
Brierly Returns: After missing six games with an ankle injury, Devin Brierly is active and has moved into the starting lineup. Brierly injured her ankle in the first half of the Indiana State game on Dec. 9.
That's Offensive: BU is second in the Horizon League in scoring with 69.5 points per game. The Bulldogs have scored at least 74 in a game five times this season, compared to just once for Detroit.
Ali-Frazier: Green Bay-Butler is a match-up of the Horizon League's two best teams in the following: shooting, scoring, scoring margin and turnovers. The two teams are first and third in blocks and steals.
Here's A Stat To Watch: In league play, Butler is shooting .465, the best percentage in the HL. Green Bay's FG percentage defense is the league's worst (.473).
X-Factor: Melanie Thornton is BU's leading scorer and rebounder, and she will get plenty of chances inside facing a Phoenix team that doesn't play with a true post player.