March 4, 2011

Bulldogs Can Clinch No. 2 With Win At Valparaiso

2010-11 Butler Women's Basketball

Butler (17-12, 11-6) at Valparaiso (7-22, 4-13)
Saturday, March 5 - 2:30 p.m. ET
Valparaiso, Ind. - Athletics-Recreation Center (ARC) 
Live Stats   |   Live Video   |   Game Notes    |  Devin Brierly Feature

 

Bulldogs Can Clinch No. 2 Spot With Win At Valparaiso

The Butler women’s basketball team can clinch the runner-up spot in the league standings - and an automatic postseason berth - with a win Saturday at Valparaiso. The Bulldogs hold the tie-breakers with Cleveland State, who like Butler also has a chance to finish 12-6 in league play.

The Starting 5 - Butler’s Top Storylines

1. Clinching The 2nd Spot: Butler, which has posted a 14-4 mark and finished second in the league in each of the past two seasons, can finished tied with Cleveland State at 12-6 in the league standings. Butler owns the tie-breaker because of head-to-head splits down to UIC in the standings. BU swept UIC and CSU did not. This means a Butler win over Valparaiso makes the Bulldogs the No. 2 seed and league runner-up, earning an automatic bid into the WNIT. 

2. 80 Wins For 2011 Class: Butler’s group of five seniors (Alyssa Pittman was a transfer) has been one of the most successful classes in school history. Azjah Bass, Brittany Bowen, Terra Burns, Chloe Hamilton and Pittman enter Saturday’s game with 80 wins, the fourth most victories in school history. This year’s senior class has won more games than any of Beth Couture’s previous senior groups, and the 2011 Bulldogs can still reach third in school history (84 wins, 1998).

3. Dawgs Eating Up Indiana: Butler has established itself among the best college teams in the state in recent seasons. BUis 12-4 against opponents from Indiana over the last three seasons, including a 4-1 mark against Valparaiso.  

4. Chloe 6th In The Nation: Chloe Hamilton enters Saturday’s play ranked sixth in the country in field goal shooting at .591, just half a percentage point out of the fourth spot. The 5-10 senior is one of only seven Division I players shooting .580 or better. Hamilton’s field goal percentage also leads the Horizon League overall and also in league games.

5. Players Of The Week: Brittany Bowen and Chloe Hamilton have each been tabbed Horizon League Player of the Week this season. Hamilton garnered the honor on Jan. 24 for her efforts at Loyola and UIC, when she averaged 21.5 points in a pair of BU wins. Bowen was selected as player of the week on Jan. 10 after averaging 19.0 points per game in road wins at Wright State and Detroit.

Butler-Valparaiso Series: Butler leads the all-time series with Valpo 19-5. The Bulldogs have won five of the last six meetings and are 5-3 against the Crusaders since the team joined the Horizon League in 2007-08. Beth Couture is 5-4 against Valparaiso.

...Last Time vs. Valparaiso: In the league opener for both teams, Brittany Bowen had 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Dawgs to a 61-49 win. Chloe Hamilton added 12 points.

Remember Susan?: The most memorable Butler-Valpo game in recent years was in January 2009, when Susan Lester scored 31 points off the bench in a 77-44 Butler win. Lester, who had 27 at halftime, finished with 11-for-19 shooting and made five 3-pointers.

More On The 2011 Class: This year’s senior class enters Saturday’s game with 80 wins. This senior class is 80-44 over the last four years, and 40-22 since Alyssa Pittman became eligible after transferring to Butler.

Chloe’s Sweet 16: Chloe Hamilton’s 11-for-11 performance against Green Bay last month was the bulk of an amazing stretch of shooting. Hamilton ended up making 16 straight field goal attempts over three games. She hit her last shot at UIC and 11 in a row vs. Green Bay and four straight against Milwaukee on Jan. 29 before missing.

Pitt Drops 25: Alyssa Pittman had Butler career highs of 25 points and six steals last Thursday at UWM. She made four 3-pointers and also dished five assists.

Pittman’s Production: Alyssa Pittman has increased her scoring since moving into the starting lineup. The 5-9 senior is averaging 14.5 points over the last four games, including a 23-point effort vs. UIC and a 25-point game at Milwaukee. 

Azjah Makes Her Point: After providing a much-needed spark off the bench for most of the season, Azjah Bass has climbed into the starting lineup at point guard. The senior point guard is averaging 5.6 points and 5.0 assists over the past five games. The 5-7 senior also has a 1.6:1 assist-to-turnover ratio over the last five contests. Bass has started 11 games this season.  

Finishing Strong: Butler has made a habit of finishing the regular season on a positive note. The Bulldogs have won their regular season finale in each of the last four years. BU completed the 2007-08 year with a 66-58 win over Valparaiso. 

400: Butler’s win against Milwaukee on Jan. 29 was victory No. 400 for Beth Couture. The 9th-year Bulldog coach now owns 403 career wins, including 145 at Butler. Couture has the most women’s basketball wins in Butler history. Only 48 other active NCAA coaches have 400 career victories.

100 Starts For Bowen: Butler’s Feb. 19 game vs. Loyola was the 100th career start for Brittany Bowen at Butler. The Bulldogs are now 65-37 in games in which she takes the floor first. 

New Lineup: Beth Couture decided to juggle the starting lineup four games ago, and the change paid off immediately. With Alyssa Pittman making her third and fourth starts this season, Butler jumped all over UIC and Loyola early to win both games handily. Against UIC, the Bulldogs made 10 made 3-pointers in the first half, led by 20 at halftime and cruised to a blowout win. The Bulldogs then built a 22-4 lead vs. Loyola en route to a victory.

...Add It To The Many Starting Lineups: Butler has used 12 different starting lineups in 29 games this season, including five groups one time. Two other starting lineups have been used twice.

Getting Claire Back: Sophomore guard Claire Freeman, who has started 14 games this season, did not make last weekend’s trip to Wisconsin due to illness. The 5-8 guard is back with the team this weekend. Freeman, who hit a game-winning jumper at Milwaukee last season, is averaging 3.6 points per game this year.

On A Defensive Crusade: In recent meetings, Butler has been able to stifle Valparaiso on the defensive end. Valpo has only broken 52 points once in the last five meetings. The Crusaders are averaging just 52.6 points over those five games.

Chloe Leading In League Play: Chloe Hamilton is BU’s leading scorer in league play, scoring 15.8 points per game. Hamilton, who is pulling in 7.6 boards per game, is shooting .608 in league play. 

More On 34: Chloe Hamilton’s 34-point outburst at Youngstown State was one for the ages. Not only was it three points short of the school single-game record, but it was the highest output by a Butler player since 2001 when Sarah Bolten tied the school record with 37 points. Two players - UWM’s Courtney Lindfors and WSU’s LaShawna Thomas - have scored 35 in a game this season. 

More On 11 For 11: Chloe Hamilton’s 11-for-11 shooting night against Green Bay on Jan. 27 was the third time in school history a Bulldog player took eight shots or more and made them all. In addition to Alexis Proffitt’s 13 for 13 (2/6/97), Kelly Kuhn went 8 for 8 against Wright State (2/20/99).

Small Ball: Just eight Bulldogs appeared in Thursday’s loss at Milwaukee on Feb. 24, mainly due to the nature of the game’s competitive nature. What’s noteworthy though were the lineups Butler had to use due to injury, illness and foul trouble. Butler had five guards on the floor at times, and only one player taller than 5-10 (6-1 Becca Bornhorst) saw any playing time. Only three players taller than 5-9 played.

Moving The Ball: Butler has registered 20+ assists six times this season, with three coming in the last five games. BU had 20 helpers on 24 field goals at YSU on Feb. 10 and had 20 on 30 field goals vs. UIC. The Bulldogs then added 24 assists on their 26 field goals on Feb. 19 vs. Loyola. 

2 For 30: Chloe Hamilton and Brittany Bowen have combined to do something that has happened just once in Butler women’s basketball history. The senior duo has combined for three 30-point scoring performances this season. Bowen dropped 30 vs. Indiana State and 31 against Cleveland State. Hamilton had 34 points at Youngstown State. The only other time the Bulldogs have had three 30-point performances in the same season was 1990, when Julie VonDielingen had two and Nikki Anderson had one. 

Simple...Just Make Shots: Sometimes the difference between winning and losing is simple. In its 17 victories, Butler is shooting .459 from the floor and scoring 73.2 points per game. In 12 losses, BU is shooting .362 and scoring 61.1 points per game. Butler is 15-0 when shooting a better percentage than its opponent and 2-12 when shooting worse.

Get Back On The Boards: Butler, owning an 11-6 record in Horizon League play, is also 11-6 in rebounding against league opponents. BU out-rebounded its first eight league opponents before losing the boards battle in three straight games against Milwaukee, Detroit and Wright State. After out-boarding UIC 43-40, Butler posted a commanding rebounding advantage against Loyola (41-26). The Bulldogs have been +10 or better on the glass eight times this season.

A 4th Straight 20: Butler needs three more wins to reach 20 victories for the fourth season in a row. That would be a first for BU as a Division I program, and second time in school history. The Bulldogs had four 20-win seasons in a row from 1978-82. This group went 20-10 in 2007-08 and followed that with a 20-12 season in 2008-09. Last year’s mark of 23-10 was the team’s most wins since the 1997-98 Bulldogs went 25-6 under June Olkowski.  

Bowen Is Scoring: Brittany Bowen, who is averaging 15.4 points and 6.6 rebounds in Horizon League play, is tied for sixth overall in the league averaging 15.4 points this season. In addition to having a pair of 30-point games, the 5-10 senior has 23 outings with 12 points or more this season. She has also scored 19 points or more eight times. Prior to this season, she posted two 25-point performances. She is also statistically one of the most efficient scorers in the league, ranking third in the Horizon League in free throw percentage (.857) and sixth in 3-point percentage (.386). 

Bulldogs Nationally: In addition to Chloe Hamilton ranking sixth in the country in field goal percentage, Brittany Bowen can be found in the most recent NCAA stats. Bowen ranks 25th in the nation in free throw percentage (.857) and 100th in field goal percentage (.460). As a team, the Bulldogs are 38th in assists, 44th in free throw shooting, 47th in assist-to-turnover ratio, 75th in field goal shooting and 80th in scoring.

1,300 Point Scorers: Butler and Green Bay are the only teams in the Horizon League with two active 1,300-point scorers. Brittany Bowen and Alyssa Pittman have each crossed that mark this season for the Bulldogs. Bowen now has 1,371 points as a Bulldog (8th in school history), and Pittman, who crossed the 1,000-point mark last season, has 1,341 for her career. She scored 715 points in two seasons at Eastern Michigan. 

Couture’s Cause: When not patrolling the Butler sideline, Beth Couture has spent her time in the battle against breast cancer. Couture, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 2009, rushed through treatments to make it on the sidelines for the start of the 2009-10 season. Couture has been cancer-free for more than a year and has participated in several awareness events. She walked 38 miles over a two-day span for St. Vincent’s Weekend To End Breast Cancer during the fall. She is also the honorary chairwoman for 2011 St. Vincent Woman of Hope, a breast cancer awareness group. Each Woman of Hope participant pledges to raise or give $1,000 annually for the cancer cause of her choice.

Injury Bug: Butler standing second in the Horizon League this season has been amazing when you consider how hard the Bulldogs were hit by injuries. BU is without two players who started the first half of the year in senior point guard Terra Burns (8.5 ppg, 4.8 apg) and freshman center Sarah Hamm (7.0 ppg). Burns was injured at Notre Dame and hasn’t played since, while Hamm suffered an ACL tear in her right knee against Valparaiso and is out for the year. 

Devin Scoring More: Devin Brierly, a career 4.5 scorer, has four double-digit scoring efforts over the last nine games. Brierly scored a career-high 19 points in BU’s win over Milwaukee on Jan. 29, 16 at Cleveland State and a pair of 12-point games. However, it’s not the scoring column where her value is best measured. Brierly is an athletic, versatile wing who Coach Couture says is the team’s best perimeter defender. She also takes care of the ball, sporting a 1.29 assist-to-turnover ratio. She is also shooting .825 at the free throw line, good for second on the team. 

Up Next: Following Butler’s game at Valparaiso, the Bulldogs will host a quarterfinal league tournament game Wednesday, March 9 at Hinkle Fieldhouse at 7 p.m.