2009-10 Butler Women's Basketball
Butler (9-5, 2-1 HL) vs. Cleveland State (7-8, 2-2 HL)
Thursday, January 14, 2010 - 7 p.m.
Cleveland, Ohio - Wolstein Center
Bulldogs Travel To Cleveland State
The Butler women's basketball team, which has won seven of its last nine, will have its first Horizon League road trip of the season this weekend as it takes on Cleveland State and Youngstown State. The Bulldogs travel to Cleveland Thursday, Jan. 14 before taking on winless YSU on Saturday. BU is coming off a 14-point win over Valparaiso.
The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines
1. Horizon League Road: The Bulldogs are 14-7 in their last 21 Horizon League road contests, dating back to 2007. The Dogs were 6-3 in league road games last year and 6-2 in 2007-08. BU has won the past five regular season meetings against the Vikings in Cleveland, but lost there during the first round of the 2008 Horizon League tourney.
2. Bulldogs Have Won 7 of 9: Butler, 5-1 in December, has won seven of its last nine games. The Bulldogs' run started 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. Butler has also picked up double-digit wins over Ball State (82-67), Loyola (72-53) and Valparaiso (57-43) during the stretch.
3. 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 15.4 points per game, and she is also among the league leaders in rebounding (4th, 8.6), steals (4th, 2.5) and blocks (2nd, 1.8). The 6-foot-1 senior had a career night against UIC, going for 24 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and three blocks. Thornton is averaging 19.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.5 steals over the last four games.
4. 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.
5. Winning Despite Injuries: Butler's current 7-2 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. Key subs Devin Brierly and Becca Bornhorst have also missed time recently. Brierly hasn't played since Dec. 9 at Indiana State but is now dressing and Bornhorst is still confined to street clothes on gameday.
NE Ohio Rocks: Butler has had great success in Northeast Ohio in recent seasons. BU is 11-3 at CSU and YSU since the 2003-04 season. The Bulldogs have won six straight regular season games at the Wolstein Center but lost at Cleveland in the league tournament in 2008.
Looking For A Cleveland Repeat: Susan Lester had 22 points and nine rebounds and Butler shot 49.1 percent from the floor as BU won 68-59 at Cleveland State last year. Butler shot 7-for-15 from 3-point range and had a 29-23 rebounding edge.
Couture Chasing Wins Record: With the win over Valparaiso last weekend, Beth Couture tied June Olkowski (1993-99) for second place on Butler's all-time wins list with 114. She is just 10 wins shy of Linda Mason's (1976-84) school-record 124 wins.
Butler Vs. Cleveland State: BU is 21-10 all-time vs. Cleveland State in a series that dates back to 1994. The Bulldogs have won 11 of the last 13 since 2003. Beth Couture is 12-4 against the Vikings, including 6-3 at CSU.
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 12 points in each of the last eight games, and she has scored in double digits in 10 of the 11 games she has played.
...Mel Moving Up List: Thornton is sixth in BU history with 96 blocked shots. She needs 10 more blocks to catch Kelly Kuhn (1998-01) for fifth in school history.
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).
Defense In Wins, In Losses: Butler's defense has been the deciding point whether the Bulldogs win or lose. BU is allowing just 54.0 points per game in wins, but allowing 78.2 points in losses. Butler's offensive production has been consistent in both wins (69.1) and losses (68.2).
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.
O-H-I-O: Butler is 18-9 against teams from the state of Ohio over the last three seasons, including a 7-2 mark last season.
Defensive Struggle Vs. Valpo: Last Saturday's 57-43 win over Valparaiso was the lowest-scoring contest of the season. BU held Valparaiso to 30.5 percent shooting and just one 3-pointer. The two teams combined for just 8-for-14 free throw shooting. It was Butler's second-lowest defensive allowance of the year (41, Evansville).
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 6.6 points and 4.4 rebounds while playing 25.7 minutes per contest. The Michigan native has four 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, Ball State and Loyola.
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: The Bulldogs are second in the Horizon League in free throw shooting, and much of that has to do with the team's recent solid shooting. BU is hitting 76.7 percent of its free throws over the last six games. Butler's 12-for-13 FT showing vs. Loyola was the team's best since 2005. BU is shooting 75.6 percent from the line during road games.
Bowen At The FT Line: Brittany Bowen, a career .825 free throw shooter, made 25 foul shots in a row before missing one vs. UIC. She is 30-for-32 dating back to November 21 at Saint Louis.
Just Make Shots: Sometimes basketball is simple: just make shots. Butler is 8-0 when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. The Dogs are 1-5 when the other team shoots better.
Defending Well In First Half: After a poor defensive effort on Jan. 4 vs. UIC, Butler made a renewed commitment to defense, particularly in the first half. Opponents are averaging just 28.4 points in the first half this season vs. Butler. The Bulldogs have held seven opponents to less than 25 points in the first half: IPFW (21 points), UNI (16), Evansville (20), Miami (24), ISU (23), Loyola (21) and Valparaiso (20).
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.
Injury Update: Becca Bornhorst, one of Butler's key post players, has missed the last four games with a leg injury. It is unknown when Bornhorst, who has scored in double figures three times this season, will return. Devin Brierly suffered an injury at Indiana State on Dec. 9 and missed five games before dressing vs. Valparaiso.
Here's A Stat To Watch: One area where BU may have an advantage is production in the post. Melanie Thornton, Susan Lester and Chloe Hamilton combine for 32.1 points and 18.7 rebounds per game. CSU's posts, Stephaine Crosley, Shalonda Winton and Destinee Blue, combine for 17.4 points and 14.2 rebounds per game.
X-Factor: Collectively, Butler's post players should be able to maneuver inside against a smaller Cleveland State team. CSU has just one player taller than 6-0 that sees playing time.