Youngstown State (2-10, 0-1 HL) at Butler (6-6, 1-0 HL)
Monday, Jan. 5 - 7:00 p.m.
Hinkle Fieldhouse - Indianapolis, Ind.
The Opening Tip: Winners of five of its last seven contests, Butler closes out a four-game homestand on Monday (Jan. 5) when it takes on Horizon League foe Youngstown State beginning at 7:00 p.m. in Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Bulldogs will try for its sixth-straight victory against the Penguins while attempting to start the conference schedule at 2-0 for only the fourth time in the last 10 seasons.
Butler Basketball On The Web: Butler's contest against Youngstown State will feature live streaming video online at the Horizon League Network. Mark Minner and Carl Heck will have the call for the game, which can be viewed for free by clicking the "Watch on HLN" link on the calendar at www.ButlerSports.com. The contest will also feature live stats through Gametracker, which can be viewed by clicking the Gametracker link on www.ButlerSports.com.
A Look At The Bulldogs: Butler will try to continue its recent defensive dominance when it closes out a four-game homestand against Youngstown State on Monday (Jan. 5). After battling through a challenging non-conference schedule that featured six teams which advanced to post-season play in 2007-08 - including nationally-ranked Ohio State - the Bulldogs opened up the Horizon League slate with a strong 55-46 win over Cleveland State on Saturday (Jan. 3). A duo of post players has been the driving force behind the team this season, as senior Lade Akande (13.1 points, 6.8 rebounds) and junior Melanie Thornton (12.8, 8.6) pace the team in both points and rebounds. Strong defense and effectiveness on the perimeter have been two critical elements to the team's success this year, as five of the Bulldogs' six wins have come by holding their opponents to less than 60 points and by scoring over five three-pointers. Sophomore Brittany Bowen (8.7 points, 16 three-pointers), junior Susan Lester (7.0, 10), freshman Devin Brierly (4.5, 12) and senior Candace Jones (4.3, 11) have helped the Bulldogs average 5.8 threes in their last eight games. Sophomore Terra Burns and seniors Candyce Brown and Tara Miller have added steady offense and strong defense on the perimeter, while sophomores Azjah Bass and Chloe Hamilton provide depth off the bench.
A Look At The Penguins: Youngstown State enters Monday's match-up with a 2-10 record on the year and a 0-1 mark in conference play after falling to Valparaiso, 86-43, in both teams' Horizon League openers on Saturday (Jan. 3). The Penguins have averaged just 52.1 points per contest while allowing their opponents 73.4 points. Senior forward Tiara Scott leads the team in scoring with 10.2 points per contest, while senior center Nikita LaFleur boasts a team- and league-high 8.8 rebounds per game while averaging 8. 5 points per contest. Freshman guard Macey Nortey, meanwhile, paces the squad with 3.2 assists per game.
The Series Against YSU: Monday's contest will be the 16th meeting and the ninth contest at Hinkle Fieldhouse between Butler and YSU in women's basketball, with the Bulldogs holding an 11-5 edge in the series that dates back to 2001-02 season when the Penguins first joined the Horizon League. After YSU claimed victories in the first four contests played, Butler has rebounded to win 11 of the last 12 games, including the past five. Butler is 6-2 against the Penguins in games played in Indianapolis and 11-3 in six seasons under head coach Beth Couture.
The Last Time Against YSU: A second-half offensive surge capped by a critical defensive stop at the end of the game helped Butler to a 61-60 victory over Youngstown State on Feb. 28, 2008 at the Beeghly Center. Leading by one with 24 seconds to go, Butler thwarted any chance of a game-winning shot by the Penguins before intercepting a pass to seal the win as time expired. Lade Akande led the Bulldogs with 12 points and Susan Lester added 11.
Battle-Tested: The Bulldogs will match up with a total of 10 games during the regular season against teams that advanced to post-season play during the 2007-08 campaign, including Cleveland State, Dayton, Evansville, Green Bay, Indiana, Miami (Ohio), Nebraska and Ohio State. The Bulldogs have won three of the seven meetings so far, topping Evansville (70-52), Miami (86-81, 2OT) and CSU (55-46).
Bulldogs Halt Vikings: Butler carried its recent defensive dominance into the first contest of the Horizon League season, as the Bulldogs held visiting Cleveland State to their second-lowest opponent scoring total en route to a 55-46 victory over the Vikings at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday (Jan. 3) afternoon. Lade Akande led the way with 14 points while Brittany Bowen chipped in 11 as Butler out-shot the Vikings 47.6 percent to 31.0 percent in the second half to come away with the win.
In Their Defense: Butler's defense has been crucial to the team's success this season. The Bulldogs rank third in the Horizon League in scoring defense - allowing just 59.7 points per contest - and have held three foes to less than 50 points, including a season-low 40 to Christian Brothers on Dec. 29.
The First 20: Butler is 6-0 on the season when it takes a lead into the locker room at halftime.
Keep It Under 60: The Bulldogs are 5-1 this season when they hold their opponent to fewer than 60 points.
Going Postal: Butler's success has been largely dictated by the play of a pair of post players, as senior Lade Akande (13.1 points, 6.8 rebounds) and junior Melanie Thornton (12.8, 8.6) have ranked as the top two scorers and rebounders on the team all season long.
Reign Of Threes: While dominant post play has become a trademark of the Bulldogs this season, their ability to score from beyond the arc has been crucial to their success. Butler boasts a 5-2 record when sinking at least five three-pointers in a game and has averaged 6.0 treys in its six victories - compared to 4.0 in its six defeats.
Downtown Living: What a difference some downtown shooting makes. After struggling to just 19 three-pointers through the first five games of the season (3.8 per contest), the Bulldogs have connected for 41 in their last seven outings (5.9), including a season-high 10 at Evansville on Dec. 3. The added long-range effort helped the Bulldogs average nearly 12 points more in the last seven games than they had in the previous five (68.0 to 56.2).
Large In The Margin: The Bulldogs' 43-point win over Christian Brothers on Dec. 29 was the team's largest margin of victory in nearly a decade, dating back to an 87-43 thumping of UIC on Feb. 11, 1999. It also ranks as the 15th-largest point differential in a win in program history and is just the 19th decision by 40 or more points. The 1979-80 team holds the school record with an incredible 78-point win coming from a 107-29 trouncing of Earlham on Jan. 26, 1980.
Grand Theft: The Bulldogs' 25 steals against Christian Brothers ranks as a single-game high in the Horizon League this season and is just four behind the league record of 29, set by Notre Dame during the 1990-91 season. The output helped to boost Butler from a league fourth-place average of 9.8 steals per contest to a league-best 11.2 in just one game. Terra Burns and Melanie Thornton led the way with six steals a piece, while five others added at least two.
...And Cashing In: Butler certainly took advantage of its 25 steals against CBU, forcing an opponent season-high 30 steals and turning them into 42 points - accounting for more than half of the Bulldogs entire scoring total (83).
Bench Dominance: A big reason for the Bulldogs' success this year has been due to the strong play of the bench. Butler has out-scored its opponents in bench scoring in all but one game this year and averages over 13 points more points per game than its foes (25.4 to 12.3). In fact, the Bulldog bench has accounted for over 40 percent of its scoring this year (305 of 757 points), while the team's leading scorer in six games has been a bench player.
Moving Up The Scoring List: Lade Akande continues her ascent up the Bulldogs' all-time scoring list. After notching 11 points against Cleveland State, she is now tied with Elza Purvlicis (1981-84) for second all-time with 1,517 career points. First place is a ways off, however, as Julie VonDielingen holds the school record with 2,018 points. Akande became just the 19th player in school history to notch 1,000 points in her career early last season and quickly climbed up to seventh by the end of the year. She also became the first non-senior player to reach 1,000 points in her career since Marlow in 1997-98.
...Among Other Lists: By pulling in 81 rebounds so far this season, Lade Akande stands in ninth place on the Bulldogs' career rebounding chart with 654 and is just five shy of passing both Sue Morris (657) and Liesl Schultz (658) for seventh all time. Akande also finds herself ranked in four other categories, including blocks (120 - 4th) and field goals made (624 - 3rd).
Bowen To No One: Brittany Bowen has been arguably Butler's hottest player in the last four games, averaging 16.3 points per contest while hitting a total of 11 three-pointers. She tallied the most impressive single-game performance of her career at Miami (Ohio), setting career-highs with 25 points, eight field goals, five three-pointers, eight rebounds and 39 minutes played. Since then, she has added an 18-point effort against Indiana State and 11-point games against both Christian Brothers and Cleveland State. Her 16 threes lead the team, while her 1.3 triples per contest are seventh in the league.
Thornton In Their Side: Melanie Thornton has not had much of a let down in any one of her games this year. The Carmel, Ind., has registered eight double-figure scoring efforts and six double-digit rebounding performances while posting four double-doubles - the first of her collegiate career. Her 23 points scored against Christian Brothers and her 13 rebounds at IPFW are career-highs. She currently leads the team with 8.6 rebounds and is second with 12.8 points per game.
Quite A Start: Through just 12 games this season, Melanie Thornton has already put together a year to remember. Her 153 points, 103 rebounds and 344 minutes played are already well over her entire season totals from 2007-08 (73 points, 47 rebounds, 148 minutes played) and are quickly approaching her career totals entering the season (176, 141, 488).
Highway Robbery: Thornton's 36 steals this season are easily the most on the team and are already more than she recorded in her entire first two seasons combined (21).
Among The League's Best: Thornton's performance in the first 12 games not only has her ranked at the top of the team's stats but also have her among the best in the Horizon League. She finds herself listed in the league's top-10 in six categories, including a first-place ranking in defensive rebounds and second-place marks in blocks and total rebounds.
Crime Prevention: Opponents have not had much luck picking the pockets of the Bulldogs in their first seven games of the year. Butler has averaged just 15.7 turnovers per game so far this season, including season-low nine at IPFW. The Bulldogs' average puts them in a tie for first place in the league standings in fewest turnovers per game, while their 0.9 assist-to-turnover ratio is second in the conference.
...From Effective Helpers: Three Bulldog players find themselves ranked in the Horizon League's top-10 list in assist-to-turnover ratio heading into Saturday's game. Senior Candyce Brown leads the team and ranks second in the Horizon League with a 2.10 A/T ratio, while senior Tara Miller is fifth with a 1.43 A/T ratio. Additionally, sophomore Brittany Bowen finds herself in seventh place with a 1.38 A/T ratio.
In Elite Company: Senior center Lade Akande has assembled one of the finest careers in school history during her three-plus years on the team. In fact, this year she accomplished something that only three other Butler players have ever done. Her five rebounds against William & Mary pushed her career rebounding total to 603, making her just the fourth player in Bulldogs history to record over 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 100 blocks in their career. She currently touts 1,517 points, 654 rebounds and 120 blocks in her career.
1,000 On The Radar: In her third season with the team, sophomore Susan Lester has totalled 752 points in her career, the second most among Butler's active players. She already finds herself on the Bulldogs' career three-pointers-made list, checking in at 10th with 90.
Bulldogs Ink Four For 2009-10: High school seniors Becca Bornhorst (6-1, F, Dublin, Ohio), Claire Freeman (5-9, G, Fishers, Ind.), Dragana Grbic (6-3, C, Terre Haute, Ind.) and Liz Jennings (6-1, F, Anderson, Ind.) each signed National Letters of Intent on the first day of the Early Signing Period. The quartet will attend Butler and play basketball beginning next fall.
National Attention: The Bulldogs will get national attention in February, as their game against Wright State on Feb. 6 will be broadcast live on ESPNU beginning at 9 p.m. at Hinkle Fieldhouse. It will be the fourth time in four seasons Butler will appear on the ESPN network. The Bulldogs' appearance in the 2007 Horizon League Championship game against Green Bay was broadcast live on ESPNU, while Butler's regular season road games against the Phoenix last spring and during the 2005-06 campaign were both on ESPNU.
Butler Basketball On The Web: Twenty-three of the Bulldogs' games this season will feature free live streaming video online. The Horizon League Network will feature 21 of those contests, including all of Butler's home games and every league road game. Additionally, the Bulldogs' games at Ohio State and Indiana were both streamed live on BigTenNetwork.com.
Next Up: Butler hits the road for the first
time during the Horizon League schedule when it travels to Detroit
for a 7:00 p.m. game against the Titans on Thursday (Jan. 8) in