February 15, 2012

Butler Hosts Loyola In Key League Game

2011-12 Butler Women's Basketball

Butler (10-13, 6-6) vs. Loyola (11-13, 6-7)
Thursday, Feb. 16 - 7 p.m. ET
Indianapolis, Ind. - Hinkle Fieldhouse
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The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines

1. Keeping The 5th: Thursday's game vs. Loyola is important for both teams' position in the Horizon League standings. The Bulldogs, 6-6 in HL play, own a one-game lead in the loss column over the 6-7 Ramblers. Both teams are trying to climb into the fourth-place spot in the league, which would earn a home game in the quarterfinals of the Horizon League Women's Basketball Championship on March 7. Also, a Butler season sweep of Loyola would help the Dawgs in tie-breaking procedures.

2. Couture's Cause: With February being a big month for breast cancer awareness and Beth Couture has spent her time in the battle against the disease. 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. 

3. Dawgs vs. Chicago Schools: Butler has won five of its last six in Hinkle Fieldhouse against the league's two Chicago schools. The Bulldogs have won their last three home meetings against the Ramblers, winning by an average margin of 18.7 points. Loyola's last win in Hinkle came on Feb. 9, 2008. The Dawgs are 24-4 all-time at home against Loyola. 

4. Devin Heating Up: Devin Brierly has led Butler in each of the past two games, averaging 21.0 points per contest. She tied her career high with 22 points at Youngstown State on Feb. 4, and then scored 20 points last week against Valparaiso. Brierly is tied for the team scoring lead with Sarah Hamm at 10.9 points per game. 

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 23 games of the season, freshmen and sophomores are accounting for 69.7% of the team's total minutes. The Dawgs start freshman Hannah Douglas along with sophomores Jenna Cobb and Sarah Hamm. Two other freshmen, Haley Howard and Amanda Raker, have also started at times this season. Only one senior and one junior play significant minutes.

 

Butler vs. Loyola: Butler and Loyola will be meeting for the 60th time Thursday night. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 42-17, including a 60-57 win at Loyola four weeks ago. The Dawgs have won seven straight against the Ramblers dating back to 2008, and five of those wins have come by double digits. Beth Couture is 15-4 against Loyola.  

Previous Meeting: Butler rallied from a 17-point deficit to win at Loyola. BU trailed 31-18 at halftime and 45-30 with 13:28 to play. BU then clamped down on defense and held LUC without a field goal for the game's final 9:17. Sarah Hamm had 18 points and eight rebounds to lead Butler.  

More Hamm Please: Sarah Hamm has emerged as Butler's offensive go-to player. The 6-2 sophomore scored a career-high 30 points on 11-for-19 shooting against Milwaukee, a week after scoring 23 points at UIC on Jan. 19. She added a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double at Cleveland State on Feb. 2. She is averaging 15.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game over Butler's last four games. She has 11 games this season with at least 12 points. 

Hamm Shooting The 3: Sarah Hamm, a 6-2 center, may also be Butler's best long-range shooter. Hamm is shooting 15-for-34 (.441) from 3-point range this season. Currently, she is a .478 shooter from beyond the arc in league games. She was 5-for-5 during the two games in Chicago, making all three of her treys at Loyola on Jan. 21.

Offensive Behavior: For a team that has struggled scoring for most of the season, Butler has recently posted three straight good offensive outings. At YSU on Feb. 4, BU hit 12 3-pointers and shot 45 percent from the floor. Butler had season highs in points (76), field goal percentage (.510) and field goals made (26) against UWM and then followed that with 68 points on .431 shooting at CSU on Jan. 2. 

Jenna At The '1': Jenna Cobb, a sophomore guard, is known for her tenacity and energy as a player. In January, Beth Couture moved her to the point position and the move has definitely worked. Cobb scored a career-high 21 points at Cleveland State on Feb. 2. The sophomore Ohio native is averaging 11.0 points and 3.5 assists over the last six games.

Guard Play At Loyola: In BU's win at Loyola, guard play was a winning factor for the Bulldogs. Butler's three starting guards - Jenna Cobb, Hannah Douglas and Devin Brierly - combined for 33 points, 15 rebounds and four assists. All 11 of Douglas' points came in the second half when Butler made its comeback.

Sarah's Career Game: Sarah Hamm finished 11-for-19 shooting and made all six of her foul shots to finish with 30 points against UWM on Jan. 28. Hamm, who pulled in 11 defensive boards and blocked four shots in the game, had 18 points at halftime and also made two 3-pointers.

Mandy Makes 3s: Mandy McDivitt, who is tied for the team lead with 35 made 3-pointers, is Butler's long-range shooter off the bench. Twice this season, McDivitt has gone off for six made 3-pointers. She nailed 6 of her 13 attempts at Valparaiso on Jan. 14 and then made 6 of 10 at Youngstown State on Feb. 4. Of her 65 career field goals, 60 have been 3-pointers.

Wins vs. Losses: Offense has been the difference between winning and losing this season. In its 10 wins, Butler scores 66.5 points and shoots .427 from the floor. In its 13 losses, BU drops to 52.2 points on .337 shooting. Sarah Hamm, Devin Brierly and Jenna Cobb all average in double figures in games won. No Bulldogs averages 10 points in the team's losses. 

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 10.9 points per game. She has four 20-point games this season. Brierly has scored 22 points against Youngstown State and Ball State and 20 at IPFW and vs. Valpo. She leads the team in assists (61) and 3-pointers made (35).

Ball Control: One positive in BU's 72-59 loss to Valparaiso was that the Bulldogs took care of the basketball. Butler committed a season-low 10 turnovers against the Crusaders. The Bulldogs have only turned the ball over 12.0 times per game over the last three contests.

Going To Sarah Late: Long-range shooting was the reason Butler won 65-63 at Youngstown State on Feb. 4. But McDivitt's winning 3-point shot wouldn't have been possible if not for three big buckets by Sarah Hamm down the stretch. Hamm scored six points on three straight possessions over a 90-second span and gave Butler a 62-61 lead with 57 seconds remaining in the game. After YSU split a pair of free throws, McDivitt buried the deep game-winning 3-pointer. 

Doubling Up: After 19 games, no player on Butler had posted a double-double this year. Against Milwaukee on Jan. 28, 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). Hamm then added another double-double at Cleveland State just five days later.

Near Triple-Double: Becca Bornhorst posted her first career double-double against UWM on Jan. 28, 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.

A Dozen Treys: Butler buried 12 shots from beyond the arc at Youngstown State, a season high for the team. BU finished 12-for-27 against YSU, with Mandy McDivitt and Devin Brierly combining to shoot 9-for-18. It was the most 3-pointers for Butler since Feb. 17 of last season when the Dawgs made 12 treys against UIC at Hinkle Fieldhouse. 

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: After the CSU-YSU trip, Beth Couture said Amanda Raker played her best weekend of the year last week. With Sarah Hamm and Becca Bornhorst in foul trouble at Cleveland State, 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. She then played 20 solid minutes at 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. Those two transfers will be added to BU's four-player 2012 recruiting class. 

90% At The Free Throw Line: Butler knocked down 19 of its 21 foul shots back on Jan. 28 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.

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, Loyola and Youngstown State 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. YSU couldn't convert on a last-second attempt to give BU a road win last Saturday. 

Couture Is No. 1: Beth Couture, with 158 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: After playing Loyola, BU will host UIC Saturday, Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. The game is at 6 because the Butler men's basketball game vs. Indiana State is at 2 p.m.