February 3, 2012

Bulldogs Look For Ohio Sweep At Youngstown

2011-12 Butler Women's Basketball

Butler (9-12, 5-5) at Youngstown State (10-11, 4-6)
Saturday, Feb. 4 - 2 p.m. ET
Youngstown, Ohio - Beeghly Center
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The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines

1. More Hamm Please: Sarah Hamm has emerged as Butler's offensive go-to player. Last Saturday vs. Milwaukee, the 6-2 sophomore scored a career-high 30 points on 11-for-19 shooting. She also pulled down 11 rebounds for her first career double-double. Hamm, who scored 23 points at UIC on Jan. 19, added a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double on Thursday at Cleveland State. She is averaging 18.0 points and 9.3 rebounds per game over Butler's last four games. She has 11 games this season with at least 12 points. 

2. Offensive Behavior: Butler enters Saturday's game at YSU coming off its two best offensive performances of the season. Butler had season highs in points (76), field goal percentage (.510) and field goals made (26) last Saturday against UWM and then followed that with 68 points on .431 shooting. Butler also shot 19-for-21 (.905) from the foul line against UWM, its best since a 16-for-17 effort vs. Cleveland State in last year's Horizon League Championship semifinal.

3. Standings Update: At 5-5 in the standings, Butler is firmly in the middle of the Horizon League standings. If the regular season ended today, BU would be the No. 5 seed in the league tournament and would play at UIC. The top four teams in the seeding play a quarterfinal home game Wednesday, March 7. 

4. February 11 - Pink Zone Game: Butler's contest vs. Valparaiso next week will be the team's Pink Zone game, where the Bulldogs will join the fight against breast cancer. Beth Couture, diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, is a survivor and has served as honorary chairwoman for St. Vincent's Women of Hope.  

5. Young Bulldogs: Butler has had young teams in the past, but no team has had young players on the floor for more minutes than this year's BU squad. Through the first 21 games of the season, freshmen and sophomores are accounting for 69.9% of the team's total minutes. Freshmen Haley Howard, Hannah Douglas and Amanda Raker have drawn starting assignments in addition to sophomores Jenna Cobb and Sarah Hamm. Only one senior and one junior play significant minutes.


Butler vs. Youngstown State:
Saturday's game will be the 24th meeting between the two schools, with BU holding an 18-5 edge in the series. The Bulldogs have won 12 straight games over the Penguins dating back to 2006. Beth Couture is 18-3 against YSU, with two of those losses coming in 2003.

Previous Meeting: Devin Brierly scored 19 points and hit four 3-pointers as BU beat YSU back on Jan. 5 at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Haley Howard added 14 points off the bench for Butler, which led 35-31 at half. Brandi Brown had 23 points and 12 boards for Youngstown State.

Jenna At The '1': Jenna Cobb, a sophomore guard, is known for her tenacity and energy as a player. Beth Couture recently moved her to the point position and the move has definitely worked. Cobb scored a career-high 21 points at Cleveland State on Thursday. The sophomore Ohio native is averaging 13.3 points and 3.0 assists over the last four games. 

Jenna vs. CSU: Jenna Cobb has four career double-digit scoring games. Three of those performances have come against Cleveland State.

Sarah's Career Game: Sarah Hamm finished 11-for-19 shooting and made all six of her foul shots to finish with 30 points last Saturday against UWM. Hamm, who pulled in 11 defensive boards and blocked four shots, had 18 points at halftime and also made two 3-pointers. 

Hamm Shooting The 3: Sarah Hamm, a 6-2 center, has emerged as one of Butler's best long-range shooters. Hamm is shooting 14-for-29 (.483) from 3-point range this season. Currently, she ranks first in the league with .556 shooting from beyond the arc. She was 5-for-5 during the two games in Chicago, making all three of her treys at Loyola on Jan. 21. 

Doubling Up: After 19 games, no player on Butler had posted a double-double this year. Last Saturday, vs. Milwaukee, both Sarah Hamm and Becca Bornhorst turned in a double-double. Hamm had 30 points and 11 rebounds and Bornhorst had 10 points and 10 rebounds. It was the first time since March 19, 2009 in the WNIT vs. Duquesne (Lade Akande and Brittany Bowen). 

Near Triple-Double: Becca Bornhorst posted her first career double-double last Saturday, and she nearly made it a triple-double. In addition to 10 points and 10 rebounds, Bornhorst dished eight assists on the day. She also hit two 3-pointers in the first half that set the tone for Butler's victory.

Haley Should Be First: Haley Howard, Butler's leading scorer, was briefly the national leader in free throw percentage. Howard is 37-for-39 at the foul line, good for 94.9 percent. Her percentage would rank first in the nation if she had enough attempts. Howard, a forward from Whiteland, Ind., made the first 23 free throws of her college career before missing against Marian on Dec. 17.

Raker Off The Bench: In her postgame interview, Beth Couture said Amanda Raker played her best game of the year on Thursday in Cleveland. With Sarah Hamm and Becca Bornhorst in foul trouble, Raker played 27 minutes and contributed six points, three rebounds and three assists. It was her highest scoring game since tallying eight points at Detroit back on Dec. 29. 

Penguin Pain: Butler has beaten Youngstown State by an average of 24.3 points over the last seven meetings. At Hinkle Fieldhouse in 2010, BU defeated YSU 82-36. Since that game, Youngstown State has inched closer to Butler. BU's victory margins over YSY last season were 19 (88-69) and 17 (73-56) before Butler beat Youngstown State 73-64 this season.

Positive Green Bay Note: Not much went right for Butler last week vs. Green Bay, but the Dawgs did get to the foul line. The Bulldogs attempted a season-high 28 free throws against the Phoenix. BU finished 17-for-28 on the night. Butler's previous season high in FT attempts was 27 against Youngstown State.

Calling For Backup: Butler will have a lot of help next season when it adds transfer post players Darress McClung and Liz Stratman. McClung, a 6-0 forward from Indianapolis, has practiced with the team this season and will be eligible next fall. She played two seasons at Cincinnati before coming to Butler. Stratman, a 6-3 freshman from New Palestine, Ind., was a four-year starter for high school girl's powerhouse Heritage Christian, where she won two state championships. Stratman played 12 games at Xavier, averaging 3.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. 

90% At The Free Throw Line: Butler knocked down 19 of its 21 foul shots last Saturday vs. Milwaukee, good for 90.5 percent. It was BU's best free throw shooting night of the season and the first time Butler has made 90 percent at the foul line in a game since it made 16-for-17 (.941) against Cleveland State in the league tourney semifinal last season. 

Devin's Increased Production: Devin Brierly, the only senior playing significant minutes this season, entered this season averaging 4.4 points per game for her career. She has been asked to score more this year, averaging a team-high 10.0 points per game. She scored a career-high 22 against Ball State, 20 at IPFW and 19 against YSU. She also leads the team in assists (49) and 3-pointers made (30) and 3-point percentage (.356). 

Devin's Improved 3-Point Shooting: After three seasons and 87 career games, Devin Brierly entered the 2011-12 season as a .317 career shooter from 3-point range. She has sharpened her shot this year, ranking 10th in the Horizon League with .356 shooting from long range. 

Mandy's Best Game: Mandy McDivitt buried six 3-pointers at Valparaiso on Jan. 14, good for a career-high 18 points. Her previous scoring high was 13, set last year. In all, McDivitt recorded career bests in points (18), field goals (6), attempts (11) and minutes played (32) at Valpo.

Mandy's Arc: Mandy McDivitt has made 57 career field goals, 52 of which have been 3-pointers. McDivitt, who plays 23.9 minutes per game, is second on the team with 27 made 3-point field goals. 

Playing Good 'D': The Bulldogs have held eight opponents to worse than 37 percent shooting this season. Eight teams have not been able to score 60 points against the Dawgs. In wins against Harvard and Loyola this season, BU's defense has successfully preserved a win with a late stop. The Dawgs led 69-68 and got a steal on the final possession to beat Harvard back in November. At Loyola, Butler forced a tough, low-percentage 3-pointer as time expired to seal a victory. 

Comeback Kids: Butler, which trailed at Loyola by 17 on Jan. 21, headed into the halftime locker room in Chicago down 31-18. The Dawgs trailed 47-32 at the 12-minute media timeout before staging a dramatic comeback in the final minutes. BU scored 42 points in the second half of its 60-57 win at Loyola. 

8 Treys 5 Times: BU can't seem to find that ninth 3-pointer in a game. The Bulldogs have tied their season high with eight made 3-pointers five times this season. Butler's 8-for-26 long-range shooting performance at Valparaiso on Jan. 14 was the fifth time this season the Bulldogs have made eight treys in a game. 

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 is the honorary chairwoman for St. Vincent Women 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.

Couture Is No. 1: Beth Couture, with 157 victories at Butler, sits 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. 

Pro Dawgs: Two recent Butler players signed pro contracts overseas during the summer. Brittany Bowen, an All-Horizon League player last year who graduated May, signed with a club in Denmark. Just days later, 2010 graduate Susan Lester signed to play professionally in Turkey. 

Butler Background: Amanda Raker and Liz Stratman, who will be sophomores next season, have the pedigree for success at Butler. Raker's father, Gary, played two seasons of basketball at BU from 1978-80 after playing two years at Oklahoma. Gary Raker, a 1975 Indiana All-Star, averaged 11.8 points per game over 52 games at Butler. Stratman's father played offensive line for Butler football for two seasons.

Up Next: Butler has just one game next week, a Saturday, Feb. 11 home contest vs. Valparaiso. The game is Butler's Pink Zone game, bringing awareness to the fight against breast cancer. The Bulldogs will be debuting their special pink Nike uniforms against the Crusaders.