Bulldogs Travel To Ball State Sunday

2010-11 Butler Women's Basketball

Butler (4-4) at Ball State (4-4)
Sunday, Dec. 12 - 1 p.m. ET
Worthen Arena - Muncie, Ind.
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SARAH HAMM ARTICLE (courtesy of Richmond Palladium-Item)

Bulldogs Play At Ball State Sunday

The Butler women’s basketball team will aim to move back over .500 when it takes on Ball State at Worthen Arena Sunday, Dec. 12 at 1 p.m. The Bulldogs are 2-2 against Indiana schools, and the contest in Muncie will be BU’s final non-conference game against an in-state rival.

 

The Starting 5 - Butler's Top 5 Storylines

1. Bulldogs Know How To Bounce Back: Last season, Butler was very strong after losses. The Bulldogs were 7-2 in games coming after a setback. BU only lost two games in a row twice, including when it lost the league tournament final followed by a road game in the WNIT. BU was 8-2 after losses in 2008-09.

2. Looking For a Road Win: Butler, playing its fourth road game of the season, is looking for its first victory on an opponent’s home court. The Bulldogs have lost at Bradley, Notre Dame and Evansville while going 1-1 on neutral courts. BU was 10-5 in road games last season. 

3. 3 Straight 20s: Butler has won 20 games in each of the past three seasons, the first time the team has achieved that as a Division I program. The Bulldogs 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. Butler has gone 63-32 during the last three seasons.

4. Back-To-Back WNIT Berths: The Bulldogs have played in the postseason in each of the past two seasons, earning the Horizon League’s automatic berth into the WNIT twice. In 2009, BU won 20 games and advanced to the WNIT second round, defeating Duquesne and losing to Marquette. Last season, Butler won 23 games before falling 57-54 at Illinois State in the first round.

5. Bowen Among The League Leaders: Brittany Bowen, who scored a career-high 30 points in Butler’s win over Indiana State, currently stands fifth in the Horizon League with 16.5 points per game. Bowen led the conference in scoring briefly before being held to six at Evansville on Tuesday. She got her 30 on 10-for-15 shooting and 7-for-9 at the free throw line. Milwaukee’s Lindsay Laur leads the Horizon League with 17.4 points per game.

 

Butler-Ball State Series: Sunday’s contest will be the 19th meeting of the series, with Butler leading 11-7. Butler has won the last two games by an average of 16.0 points. Butler, led by Brittany Bowen’s 20 points, defeated Ball State 82-67 in Hinkle Fieldhouse last season. Beth Couture is 2-2 against the Cardinals, with none of the four meetings decided by less than 15 points.

1,000 Point Scorers: With six points in Butler’s win over IUPUI, Brittany Bowen became the 21st player in Butler history to score 1,000 career points. The 5-10 senior reached the mark with a lay-up at the 16:05 mark of the first half. Bowen now has 1,055 points as a Bulldog. Additionally, Alyssa Pittman crossed the 1,000-point mark late last season. She scored 715 points in her two seasons at Eastern Michigan and now has 1,084 for her career.

Short Travel: It is 57.7 miles from BU’s Hinkle Fieldhouse to Ball State’s Worthen Arena. The distance is the shortest trek of Butler’s season. The second-shortest trip is to Wright State (121 miles).

Bowen Is Scoring: Brittany Bowen is fifth in the league averaging 16.5 points this season. In addition to scoring 30 against ISU, the 5-10 senior has two outings with 26 points twice this season, coming against Saint Louis and Wake Forest. She also has posted two 25-point performances prior to this season, coming against Miami (Ohio) and Cincinnati.

Couture Is No. 1: Beth Couture, with 132 victories at Butler, sits alone atop BU’s all-time women’s basketball wins list. Couture last season passed Linda Mason, who coached at BU from 1976-84 and won 124 games. The record-breaking victory came at UIC on March 4 of last season.

...Couture’s 250th: Sunday’s game at BSU is Beth Couture’s 250th game on the sideline for Butler. She is 132-117 in her ninth season. 

Sharpshooter: Brittany Bowen is arguably one of the best shooters in the Horizon League. She is the only player ranked among the league leaders in FG percentage (6th), 3-point percentage (2nd) and free throw percentage (2nd). Also, she’s the only player in the top 6 in field goal and free throw shooting.

Dawgs Eating Up Indiana: Butler has made a habit of winning in the state of Indiana. BU is 11-4 in its last 15 games against in-state opponents. The Bulldogs are 2-2 this season, with wins over IUPUI and Indiana State and losses to Notre Dame and Evansville. Dating back to the 2007-08 season, BU is 17-6 against Indiana schools.

Bowen At The Free Throw Line: Brittany Bowen, a career .829 free throw shooter, made her first 23 free throw attempts before missing in the first half against ISU on Dec. 4. Bowen entered last Saturday’s game 20-for-20 from the stripe and is now 27-for-29. She is second in the Horizon League in free throw percentage at .931.

Hamm Learning Quickly: Freshman center Sarah Hamm has emerged as an effective interior player. The 6-2 rookie is averaging 5.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. She has started six games this season, scoring in double figures three times. She tied her career high with 11 points against Indiana State. She also scored 11 against Ohio Dominican, and had 10 points against Saint Louis.

...Hamm Homecoming: Sunday will be a homecoming of sorts for Sarah Hamm. She was a high school standout at nearby Winchester High School, capturing player of the year honors from the Muncie Star Press. She was a 2010 Indiana All-Star after averaging 18 points per game for the 25-1 WHS Falcons. 

Chloe Solid At The ‘4’: Chloe Hamilton has had a nice start to her senior year, averaging 11.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. The 5-10 senior has been a consistent scorer, tallying double figures in six of Butler’s eight games. She led the team in scoring at Bradley (13) and against Ohio Dominican (14) before scoring 49 points in Butler’s three games at Notre Dame. Hamilton burst into the starting lineup last season, averaging 7.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game after playing sparingly her first two seasons. She averaged 8.7 points a game during league play last year. 

...Chloe Named All-Tourney: Chloe Hamilton was named to the WBCA All-Tournament Team after averaging 16.3 points and 8.0 rebounds over the three games at Notre Dame. Hamilton started the weekend with a career-best 19 points vs. Wake Forest, then she matched that output in a win over IUPUI. She finished the weekend with 11 points and eight rebounds against Notre Dame.

Life After Mel: Butler is charged with the task of replacing the 2010 Horizon League Player of the Year in Melanie Thornton. Last season, the 6-1 Thornton averaged 15.7 points and 8.8 rebounds while leading the team in steals and blocks. Thornton had at least 10 points in 25 of her last 27 games, while leading the team in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals. Thornton had 12 double-doubles and was also named Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year.

Conference Wins Record: In each of the past two seasons, Butler has set a school record with 14 league victories. The Bulldogs have posted back-to-back 14-4 conference seasons and are 49-21 (.700) in league play over the last four seasons. 

No Burns For The Bulldogs: Terra Burns, BU’s starting point guard and team co-captain, has missed the past two games with a leg injury suffered against Notre Dame. She continues to be evaluated. The 5-9 senior was averaging 8.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists before getting injured.

Bulldogs Finish Second: Butler placed second in both the Horizon League regular season and the league tournament last year. After going 14-4 and finishing one game behind champion Green Bay, BU defeated Wright State and Detroit to advance to the league tourney final. No. 4 seed Cleveland State won the league championship game. 

After Halftime, Try Again: After eight games, it seems Beth Couture’s halftime speeches make the Bulldogs shoot better. Butler is shooting .432 from the floor after halftime, compared to just .347 in the first 20 minutes. Also, BU is better at the free throw line in the second halves of games. Butler is converting foul shots at a .676 rate in the first half, compared to .756 in the second half. Butler played a poor first half against Indiana State, trailing by 13 at halftime. The Bulldogs then won the second half 52-30 against the Sycamores.

Couture’s Cause: In April 2009, Beth Couture was diagnosed with breast cancer. She finished treatments and radiation at a fast pace, just in time to return to the sideline for last season’s opener. Couture is now cancer-free and an avid supporter of breast cancer awareness. She walked 38 miles over a two-day span for St. Vincent’s Weekend To End Breast Cancer during the fall. 

BU Among Mid-Majors: Butler’s success over the past three seasons has made noise nationally around mid-major women’s basketball. The Bulldogs were picked No. 22 in the first Mid-Major Top 25 poll by CollegeInsider.com. BU has since dropped out of the top 25. Green Bay, after an 8-0 start with wins over three Big Ten teams, has moved to No. 1. CSU has climbed to No. 17 in the poll. Beth Couture and Detroit’s Autumn Rademacher represent the Horizon League on the mid-major poll.

All ‘O’ Board: Playing significant minutes with a small lineup hasn’t stopped Butler from being aggressive on the offensive boards. BU is averaging a league-best 15.8 offensive rebounds a game. BU leads the conference in offensive rebounding percentage, hauling in 40.4 percent of its missed shots. Butler has grabbed at least 11 offensive rebounds in each game this season, with two outings of 19 offensive boards. The Bulldogs also lead the HL in rebounding margin at +2.5. Chloe Hamilton (28), Brittany Bowen (25) and Sarah Hamm (15) lead the team in offensive rebounds.

Here’s A Stat To Watch: Rebounding. This is something both teams have done well this season. Butler (+2.5) and Ball State (+1.1) have each been on the winning end of the glass through eight games. Ball State  has some size and Butler crashes the offensive glass hard. Whoever imposes their will on the boards will have an advantage.

X-Factor: Sarah Hamm. With the added energy of playing in her home area, the 6-2 freshman will be a key to Sunday’s game. Ball State has an excellent post player in Emily Maggert (15.0 ppg, 10.4 rpg) that will be a tough assignment. Hamm’s ability to play defense, rebound and stay out of foul trouble could go a long way on how things go for Butler on Sunday.

Up Next: After this week’s final exams, Butler will travel to Beth Couture’s home state of South Carolina for a pair of games. BU will take on Coastal Carolina Sunday, Dec. 19 at Myrtle Beach. The Bulldogs close  trip wtih a game at South Carolina two days later.