2009-10 Butler Women's Basketball
Butler (15-7, 8-3 HL) vs. Cleveland State (12-11, 7-5 HL)
Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010 - 2 p.m. ET
Indianapolis, Ind. - Hinkle Fieldhouse
Bulldogs Host Cleveland State Thursday
Join the Butler women's basketball team Saturday at 2 p.m. as it hosts Cleveland State in its WBCA Pink Zone game. Tickets are $5 (adults) and $3 (children) and cancer survivors get in free. The Bulldogs have won six of their last seven and are 15-7, 8-3 in Horizon League play and tied for second in the conference. Cleveland State enters Saturday at 12-11, 7-5.
The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. Horizon League Race: At 8-3 in Horizon League play, Butler enters Saturday's game in a second-place tie with defending league champ Green Bay. League-leading Detroit, a team Butler already beat by 21 points, is 10-2. Green Bay plays Milwaukee Saturday and Detroit plays at UIC, the only team to have beaten Butler at home this season.
2. Entering The Pink Zone: Butler will be hosting its WBCA Pink Zone game today vs. Cleveland State. The WBCA Pink Zone is a national breast cancer awareness initiative. Butler, in conjunction with the St. Vincent Foundation, will honor head coach and breast cancer survivor Beth Couture with many of her doctors and radiologists in attendance. Cancer survivors will be admitted free and fans are encouraged to wear pink.
3. Coach Couture's Battle: BU head coach Beth Couture successfully battled breast cancer during the offseason, and she has been recently deemed 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.
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 15.4 points per game. She is also among the league leaders in rebounding (5th, 7.7), steals (4th, 2.1) and blocks (2nd, 1.8). She is the only player in the league to rank in the top 5 in scoring, rebounding and steals. The 6-foot-1 senior has six double-doubles this season and is averaging 15.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game over the last five games.
5. Depending On Defense: Butler's defense has been the primary factor in whether BU wins or not. In 15 Butler victories, the Bulldogs are holding opponents to 53.1 points and .359 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 win over Youngstown State on Thursday, the Bulldogs held the Penguins to 36 points on .263 shooting.
Butler vs. Cleveland State: BU leads the all-time series between the two schools, 21-11, and has won five of the last six meeting in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler is 12-5 vs. CSU under Beth Couture and had won three of the past four games until the Vikings claimed an 81-68 win over BU on Jan. 14.
First Meeting With CSU: Cleveland State shot 53 percent and out-rebounded Butler by 14 in the Vikings' 81-68 win. Kailey Klein had 19 points and 12 rebounds. Melanie Thornton and Alyssa Pittman each scored 17 for Butler.
Couture Chasing Wins Record: Beth Couture has moved past June Olkowski (1993-99) for second place on Butler's all-time wins list with 120. She is just four victories shy of tying 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 378-227 in her 21-year career.
Ball Control: Butler has taken good care of the ball this season, ranking in the top 50 in the country (second in the HL) with just 15.7 turnovers per game. Seven times this season, the Bulldogs have committed 14 turnovers or less. The Horizon League average is 17.8 turnovers per contest. BU is also second in the HL with a +2.7 turnover margin.
O-H-I-O: Butler is 22-10 against teams from the state of Ohio over the last four seasons, including a 12-3 mark in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
More On Mel: Melanie Thornton ranks in the top six in the Horizon League in six different categories (see page 4). Thornton has at least 10 points in each of the last 16 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 six double-doubles this season, is averaging 16.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 2.0 blocks in league play this season.
...Mel Moving Up List: Thornton is fifth in BU history with 110 blocked shots and needs 29 more to catch Kelly Kuhn (1997-01) for fourth in school history.
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.
...And She's Scoring More: Claire Freeman is averaging 7.4 points per game over the last five games.
Cleveland State Inspired Change: 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 6-1 and shooting .487 from the floor since the switch. Chloe Hamilton has made the biggest improvement over that span, averaging 10.4 points on .612 shooting.
Sharpshooters: As a team, Butler charts second in the HL and top 40 in the country with a .443 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 Thursday night.
Sharpest Shooter: Brittany Bowen, who is second on the team in scoring (12.2), ranks among the league leaders in FG percentage (.517, 8th), FT shooting (.783, 6th) and 3FG percentage (.426, 3rd). Bowen has scored 15 points or more eight times this season.
Home Court Defense: While Butler is 10-0 when holding opponents to less than 60 points, BU's defense has been especially stifling at home. The Bulldogs, who are 9-1 at Hinkle, are allowing just 53.7 points per game at home. In the last four home contests, opponents have managed just 46.0 points per game and .316 shooting.
Chloe Solid At The ‘4': Chloe Hamilton, who has started all 22 games this season, scored 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting vs. YSU. The junior tied her career high with 16 points at Green Bay on Jan. 28 and she had her first career double-double vs. Wright State on Jan. 21 with 16 points and 10 rebounds. She also has two 12-point games this season.
Just Make Shots: Sometimes basketball is simple: just make shots. Butler is 14-0 when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. The Dogs are 1-7 when the other team shoots better.
Pitt Heating Up: Alyssa Pittman, who has made 197 career 3-pointers, is giving Butler the scoring the team has been looking for lately. The junior, who hit three straight 3s in the final minutes of BU's win at UWM, hit both of her long-range shots vs. YSU. Pittman is BU's second leading scorer in league play (9.4 ppg) and has hit 6 of her last 9 from beyond the arc.
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 1,169 points. She is now sixth all-time with 719 rebounds and fifth in both 3-pointers made (131) and attempted (389).
That's Offensive: BU is second in the Horizon League in scoring with 69.5 points per game. The Bulldogs have scored at least 70 points in a game nine times this season, including three efforts with 81 or more.
Here's A Stat To Watch: In conference play, Cleveland State (+4.3 margin) and Butler (+2.8) are the top two rebounding teams in the Horizon League. The team who can control the boards may leave Hinkle Fieldhouse with a victory.
X-Factor: Devin Brierly has scored nine points in each of the past two games. However, she wasn't at full strength in the Dogs' loss at CSU on Jan. 14 after missing six games with an ankle injury. Brierly has shot 5-for-8 from beyond the arc over the past two games.