Bulldogs Open League Play Vs. Loyola
2009-10 Butler Women's Basketball
Butler (8-4) vs. Loyola (6-5)
Saturday, January 2, 2010 - 6 p.m. ET
Indianapolis, Ind. - Hinkle Fieldhouse
Bulldogs Open Horizon League Play With Loyola
The Butler women's basketball team, a winner in five of its last six games, opens Horizon League play at home vs. Loyola Saturday, Jan. 2 at 6 p.m. BU, now 4-0 at home, is coming off an 82-67 win over Ball State. The Bulldogs have won 10 of the last 11 meetings against Loyola, including two wins by an average margin of 13.5 last season.
The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. Bulldogs Have Won 5 of 6: Butler had its four-game win streak snapped at Dayton, but rebounded with a 15-point win over Ball State on Wednesday. BU, 5-1 in December, started its current run with a 77-41 win over Evansville and then went on to defeat Miami (Ohio) (68-60), Indiana State (67-60) and Cincinnati (65-48). The 36-point win over UE was Butler's largest margin of victory since 1999. It marked the third time the Dogs had won four straight non-conference games under Beth Couture.
2. Bowen Leading The Team: Junior Brittany Bowen, last season's leading scorer, has once again emerged as a go-to option on offense. Bowen is averaging a team-best 14.6 points per game while shooting .533 from the floor and .472 from 3-point range. The Columbus, Ind., native scored 20 points vs. Ball State and has led BU in scoring six times this season, including a 25-point effort at Cincinnati.
3. Coach Couture's Battle: BU head coach Beth Couture successfully battled breast cancer during the offseason. 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. Back-To-Back Outbursts: The Bulldogs have scored 80+ points in back-to-back games for the first time since November 1999, three years before Beth Couture came to Indy. BU posted 83 and 84 against Mississippi Valley State and Arkansas-Little Rock, respectively, 10 years ago. Butler's 163 points is the highest two-game total since March 2007, when BU scored 165 over two games during the Horizon League Championship.
5. Winning Despite Injuries: Butler's 5-1 streak is more impressive when you consider it's been done despite the Bulldogs being hit with injuries. Senior All-Horizon League forward Susan Lester injured her foot and elbow and missed two games before being used sparingly the last few games. Key subs Devin Brierly and Becca Bornhorst have also missed time recently; Brierly hasn't played since Dec. 9 at Indiana State.
Butler In HL Openers: Butler is 5-2 in Horizon League openers under Beth Couture, none of which have come against the Ramblers. The Bulldogs are 4-3 in league home openers under Couture.
That's Offensive: BU's 82 points against Ball State on Wednesday was the season's highest total. The Bulldogs put up 81 points at Dayton. The 163 points over a two-game span is the program's highest since March 2007.
More On Bowen: Brittany Bowen has been BU's top scorer six times this season. She tied her career high with 25 points at Cincinnati and also had 20 points against Ball State. She has posted team highs vs. Kentucky (16), IPFW (17), Evansville (19), Miami (Ohio) (18). Against MU, Bowen had 18 points and 10 rebounds, her second career double-double. Bowen is among the Horizon League leaders in five different categories (see page 4).
Stat Sheet Stuffer: Melanie Thornton has made an impact all over the floor this season. The senior forward is averaging 13.4 points, 9.0 boards and 1.5 blocks per game. Thornton has scored at least nine points in every game this season and has three double-doubles. She is averaging 15.5 points and 12.0 rebounds over the last four games.
Party Like Its 2009: BU finished the 2009 calendar year with a 21-10 record. It was the team's best year since going 21-8 in 2007.
Couture Chasing Wins Record: If Butler can duplicate what it has done the past two seasons, Beth Couture will be the winningest coach in BU history this season. Couture is just 12 wins shy of Linda Mason's (1976-84) school-record 124 wins. Couture needs two victories to tie June Olkowski (1993-99) for second place with 114.
Rambling Over Loyola: Butler is 14-6 vs. Loyola over the last 10 years and has won 10 of 11 against the Ramblers. Beth Couture is 10-4 against Loyola, including a 5-2 mark at home.
Another Look At Dayton: Butler's double-overtime loss at Dayton was one of the team's best performances of the season. The Bulldogs were down by 12 at halftime, but made a barrage of 3-pointers and forced 25 Flyer turnovers to force overtime. BU trailed by five late in the first overtime but went on a 7-2 run to send the game into a second OT period. Butler led 81-79 with 55 seconds left but Dayton scored the last five points of the game to eke out the win.
Other HL Teams Vs. Dayton: Three other Horizon League teams (UIC, Milwaukee, Wright State) have played Dayton this season. UD beat each of those teams by at least 21 points with an average margin of victory of 27.3.
Home Cooking: Butler is 4-0 at home this season, winning those games by an average margin of 19.3 points. BU is 19-6 in its last 25 regular season Horizon League homes games, dating back to 2007.
Pitt Heating Up: In Butler's first five games, Alyssa Pittman shot just 7-for-31 (.226) from beyond the arc while scoring 7.4 points. In the five games after that, the junior guard is 15-for-47 (.319) from 3-point range and and averaging 12.6 points per game. Pittman made seven 3s at Dayton and four treys each against Miami and Indiana State.
BU Vs. The Cardinals: After not playing Ball State last year, Butler and BSU are renewing the in-state rivalry. BU beat the Cards seven times in a row during the 1980s and 90s but BSU has won three of the last four meetings. Butler did claim the last game two years ago, 66-49, behind 25 points from Susan Lester.
Hamilton Plays Solid At The 4: Chloe Hamilton, starting at the ‘4' spot this season, is having her best season as a Bulldog. She is averaging 7.0 points and 5.0 rebounds while playing 25.9 minutes per contest. The Michigan native has three double-digit scoring outings this season, including when she tied her career best with 12 points vs. Evansville. Hamilton also had 10 points vs. Syracuse and Ball State.
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.
Make Them, They're Free: Coming into the season, head coach Beth Couture was concerned about her team's free throw shooting. The Bulldogs have been solid at the line lately, shooting 79.5 percent over the last four games.
Bowen At The FT Line: Brittany Bowen, a career .829 free throw shooter, has made 21 foul shots in a row. She is 26-for-27 dating back to November 21 at Saint Louis.
Just Make Shots: Sometimes basketball is simple: just make shots. Butler is 6-0 when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. The Dogs are 1-4 when the other team shoots better.
Defending Well In First Half: Butler has played its best defense in the first half of games this season. Opponents average just 28.5 points in the first half this season. BU has held six opponents to less than 30 points in the first half: IPFW (21 points), Northern Iowa (16) and Evansville (20), Miami (24), ISU (23) and Ball State (29).
Everyone Hits The Boards: In Butler's 11 games, the Dogs have been led in rebounds by five different players. Melanie Thornton has the the team in boards five times, while Susan Lester, Becca Bornhorst and Brittany Bowen have each been the top rebounder twice.
Bornhorst Hurt: Becca Bornhorst, one of Butler's key post players, missed the Ball State game with a leg injury. Bornhorst, who has scored in double figures three times this season, will miss the next few games.
Here's A Stat To Watch: Loyola is shooting 38.2 percent from 3-point range, the best mark in the Horizon League. Butler's 3-point shooting defense is second in the Horizon League at 30.7 percent. Butler must continue to identify shooters
X-Factor: Chloe Hamilton is sixth on the team in scoring with 7.0 points per game, but the junior forward is coming off a 10-point game and has seen her minutes increase as Butler has dealt with injuries to post players.