Bulldogs Host Cleveland State On Senior Day Saturday

March 2, 2007

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Game 28
Cleveland State (8-20, 5-10) at Butler (13-14, 10-5)

Date: Saturday, March 3, 2007
Time: 2:00 p.m. EST
Location: Hinkle Fieldhouse (10,757) Indianapolis, Ind.

Tip-Off: Butler (13-14, 10-5 Horizon League) closes out the regular season on Saturday (March 3) when it hosts Cleveland State (8-20, 5-10 HL) beginning at 2:00 p.m. in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Winners of six of their last eight contests and in third place in the Horizon League standings, the Bulldogs will attempt to claim their second win of the season over the Vikings while moving to .500 overall on the year.

First Class All The Way: Butler will recognize its three seniors prior to its game against Cleveland State on March 3. Guards Jackie Closser and Ellen Hamilton and forward Carla Gheorghe will be recognized for their dedication to the program during their careers in a ceremony before tip-off. The trio also has the special distinction of being head coach Beth Couture's first graduating recruiting class at Butler.

A Look At the Bracket: With their win against Youngstown State on Thursday (March 1), the Bulldogs secured the third seed in the Horizon League standings and a quarterfinal game against the No. 6 seed at Hinkle Fieldhouse on March 7. The Bulldogs' opponent for the game has yet to be determined, as Cleveland State, Loyola and Youngstown State are currently tied for sixth in the league at 5-10. YSU currently holds the three-way tie-breaker for sixth by virtue of a win over UIC and can lock up the spot with a win at Wright State on Saturday. CSU could end up the Bulldogs' foe only if it is able to get past Butler on March 3 and if YSU loses at Wright State, while Loyola needs to defeat UW-Milwaukee and have YSU and CSU lose in their final contests.

The Last Time We Met: Lade Akande notched a double-double and Ellen Hamilton became the 18th player in Butler history with 1,000 career points as the Bulldogs overcame an early second-half deficit to hold off host Cleveland State, 66-57, on Dec. 28. The Bulldogs held a one-point advantage at the break before the Vikings scored the period's first nine points to jump ahead, 37-29. Butler came right back, however, scoring 11 unanswered on the heels of eight-straight points by Akande to tie the game before a three-pointer by Susan Lester gave the Bulldogs the lead for good, as the Butler defense kept the Vikings at bay for the final minutes. Akande paced all scorers with a career-tying 28 points and added 10 rebounds, while Hamilton scored her milestone points on a lay-up mid-way through the second period.

Butler Basketball on the Web: Cory Schnurbusch serves as the play-by-play voice of the Butler women's basketball team for the 2006-07 season. The broadcasts feature live game action on the web at www.ButlerSports.com and are offered for free. Butler also has streaming video available for the remaining Horizon League contests.

Previewing The Bulldogs: Butler (13-14, 10-5 Horizon League) sits in third place in the Horizon League standings after winning six of its last eight contests. The Bulldogs have used the three-pointer as a large part of their scoring, with nearly 35 percent (213-of-613) of their field goals coming from downtown and their 7.9 treys per game ranking fifth in the NCAA Division I. Senior guards Jackie Closser (13.9 ppg) and Ellen Hamilton (8.4 ppg) have each eclipsed 1,000 points in their careers this season and rank in the top-five in the Horizon League in three pointers per game. Sophomore center Lade Akande adds a strong inside presence, averaging 14.5 ppg, while freshman post Susan Lester leads the team with 6.1 rpg. Sophomore guard Tara Miller has provided an all-around boost with 7.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg and 3.7 apg, while junior forward Cassie Freeman adds a long-range threat from the post position with a .350 three-point percentage. Candyce Brown and Candace Jones provide depth on the perimeter, while forwards Candace Bain and Mel Thornton are the top post options off the bench. Head coach Beth Couture (320-197) is in her fifth season with the Bulldogs.

Bulldogs Stifle Penguins For Win: Freshman Susan Lester notched her sixth double-double of the season, sophomore Lade Akande came one rebound shy of her third and the Bulldogs used a dominant edge on the glass in holding off Youngstown State in a 59-45 victory on March 1. Butler never trailed in a game that featured sluggish offense on both sides, despite 40.8 percent shooting from the field by the Bulldogs. A meager 28.3 percent accuracy by the Penguins proved to be too much of a pitfall to overcome, as YSU was held to a Butler opponent season-low 45 points. Lester finished with 13 points and a career-best 14 boards, while Akande scored a game-high 21 points and added nine rebounds.

National Attention: The Bulldogs are currently listed in the NCAA Division-I Top-50 in five categories. As a team, Butler ranks fifth with 7.9 three-pointers made per game and 36th in three-point percentage at 35.2. The Bulldogs have also yielded only 15.1 turnovers per game, tied for the 33rd-lowest mark in the nation. Senior guard Jackie Closser finds herself mentioned in two categories, ranking 21st with 2.6 treys per game and 46th with an 83.8 free throw percentage.

Just Off The Charts: Ellen Hamilton's team-leading .398 three-point percentage is just short of the NCAA minimum of 2.0 makes per game to qualify for the Division I rankings. If her figures did count, she would rank 26th.

Numbers Game: The Bulldogs are 8-1 in Horizon League play this year when leading at halftime and are 8-1 when they score more three-pointers than league foes. Free throws and turnovers have also been key, as Butler is 8-2 in league play when out-scoring its opponent from the line and 7-2 when committing fewer turnovers.

Crime Prevention: Opponents have had a rather difficult time attempting to pick the pockets of the Butler players this season. The Bulldogs have yielded 15.1 turnovers per game this year, the second-fewest in the Horizon League and tied for the 33rd-fewest in the nation. Butler also ranks second in the league in assists-to-turnover ratio at 1.0. In fact, the Bulldogs have allowed no more than 14 miscues in nine of their last 12 games, while their six turnovers against Air Force on Nov. 22 remains the lowest single-game total in the Horizon League this season.

The Tara Miller Effect: It might be pure coincidence, but things have turned for the better ever since sophomore guard Tara Miller became eligible to play. Since dropping a closely-contested battle to No. 16 Louisville in Miller's first game, Butler has won 10 of its last 16 games and has averaged 13 points more per game (58.7 to 71.7). Meanwhile, Butler has gone from being out-scored by nearly 15 points per game to holding over a four point edge on its foes. Miller has provided a spark in just about every aspect of the game during that time, averaging 7.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.6 steals per game.

Keeping it Going: With her three makes from three-point against Youngstown State on March 1, Jackie Closser extended her streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer to 55 in a row. Her trek is the longest active streak in the NCAA and is only five shy of the Division I record of 60. However, time is at a premium, as the Bulldogs will need to advance to the NCAA Tournament for Closser to play in enough games to reach the mark. Her 69 makes from downtown are tied for the second-highest single season total in school history and are 15 short of her own school-record 84, set last season.

Minute Minder: Jackie Closser must really enjoy time-outs, because she doesn't get too many other opportunities to catch her breath. The senior guard has played fewer than 35 minutes only three times this year and has played the full 40 minutes in six. In fact, her 30 minutes played at UW-Milwaukee on Feb. 22 is tied for her shortest outing of the season. She currently leads the Horizon League with 36.8 minutes per game.

...And It's About to Be The Most Ever: Jackie Closser has spent a lot of time on the court this season, but she could end up spending more time on the floor than anyone else in Butler history. Closser has played 3,597 minutes in her career, the third-most all-time, and needs only 11 minutes to pass Mary Majewski (3,607) for the most in school history. At her current clip of 36.8 minutes per game, she should have no trouble breaking it in the final regular season contest against Cleveland State on March 3.

Triple Threat: The Bulldogs have been nearly unstoppable from three-point range this season. Butler leads the Horizon League and is fifth in the NCAA with 7.9 three-pointers made per game while ranking second in the league with a .353 three-point percentage. The Bulldogs have averaged even more in league games, ranking second with 8.4 per game and a .366 percentage.

Closser And Hamilton Lead the Way: Senior guards Jackie Closser and Ellen Hamilton have led the way for the Bulldogs from downtown this season. Closser leads the team and is second in the Horizon League with 2.6 makes per game, while Hamilton has hit 2.0 per game for a third-place tie in the conference.

Accuracy Counts: Ellen Hamilton, Jackie Closser and Cassie Freeman have each made the most of their attempts from long distance. Hamilton leads the team, is fifth in the Horizon League with a .398 three-point percentage (53-of-133), while Closser checks in at ninth in the conference at .371 (69-of-186). Freeman, meanwhile, is the only post player ranked among the league's top 15, placing 13th with a .350 percentage (28-of-80).

Jones, Miller and Lester: No, it's not a law firm; it's just an example of how many other options the Bulldogs have for pulling the trigger from three. Sophomore guard Candace Jones has hit 11-of-34 from three for a .324 shooting percentage, while sophomore guard Tara Miller has netted 27-of-75 (.360) in just 17 games with the team. Meanwhile, forward Susan Lester has added long range ability from the post position with a .338 mark (22-of-65).

Akande Brings It From The Paint: It's not all about shooting from long range for the Bulldogs, as sophomore Lade Akande can attest. The 6-1 center leads the team in scoring with 14.5 points per game despite not taking a single shot from beyond the arc this year. In fact, the Robinson, Ill. native has yet to shoot for three in 53 career games. She currently leads the team and is sixth in the Horizon League with a .498 field goal percentage.

...And She Does It In Conference Play: Akande has stepped up her game even further in Horizon League play. She is fourth in the league with 16.5 points per game and is fifth with a .553 shooting percentage from the field. She has also pulled in 6.1 rebounds per league game, the sixth-highest total, and has posted a pair of double-doubles.

Double Trouble: Freshman Susan Lester has been nearly unstoppable at times this year, especially of late. In Butler's last 10 contests, she has averaged 13.0 points and 8.9 rebounds while notching five double-doubles. She has led the Bulldogs in rebounding 13 times this season, and her six double-doubles and 6.1 rebounds per game pace the squad.

Moving On Up: After eclipsing 1,000 points in their careers this season, senior guards Jackie Closser and Ellen Hamilton continue to move up the Butler all-time scoring list. Closser currently touts 1,265 points in her career and is eighth in the Bulldog record books after passing Liz Skinner (1,224). Meanwhile, Hamilton ranks 14th with 1,111 and needs 18 to move past Nikki Anderson (1,128) for 13th. Closser became the 17th player in school history to reach 1,000 points at Louisville on Dec. 18, while Hamilton became number 18 at Cleveland State on Dec. 28.

Taking Advantage of Charity: It's not as if Jackie Closser is asking to go to the free throw line, but, when she does, she makes opponents pay. She is currently second in the league and 46th in the nation in free-throw efficiency, netting 88 of her 105 attempts for a .838 average. Closser has missed only nine shots in Horizon League play this season (59-of-68) and is first with an .868 percentage. Her mark includes a perfect 12-for-12 performance at Detroit on Jan. 18.

Hamilton Gets The Floor Time: Ellen Hamilton has been a staple on the floor for the Bulldogs and touts rare figures in terms of minutes played. The senior guard has played 3,046 minutes in her career for eighth on the all-time list after passing Martha Kondalski (3,025). She now needs just 36 minutes to move into seventh past Jennifer Marlow (3,081).

A Little Bit Of Help: Jackie Closser has been extremely helpful to the Bulldogs on offense this season and during her career. The senior guard ranks fourth in the Horizon League with 3.9 assists per game and is fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.5. She also touts 431 assists in her career, the fifth-most in school history. Fourth place is a ways off, however, as Barb Skinner dished 509 from 1980-83. The school record of 584 was set by Melissa Kilgore from 1985-88.

...While a Lot of Help Goes A Long Way: Butler had a ton of assistance with its shooting against UW-Milwaukee on Jan. 27, as every one of the Bulldogs' season-high 31 field goals was assisted on. The 31 assists is the Horizon League's single-game standard for this season, while the 31-on-31 percentage was just one off of the NCAA Division-I single-game record of 32 assists on 32 makes, set by St. Louis in 1986.

Raining Threes: The Bulldogs' effort from the three-point arc against UW-Milwaukee on Feb. 22 not only broke the Butler single-game record but was one of the top performances in the nation this year. The 15 makes is the most in the Horizon League this season and one shy of the league record of 16, set by UW-Green Bay on three occasions. It is also tied with six other teams for the single-game season-high in all of the NCAA Division I.

Butler Inks Quartet For 2007: High school stand-outs Azjah Bass, Terra Burns, Chloe Hamilton and Jenny Ostrom have all signed national letters of intent to attend Butler and play basketball beginning in the fall of 2007. All four have earned all-state accolades and are either approaching or have surpassed 1,000 points in their careers.

At The Buzzer: Butler opens up post-season play at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Wednesday (March 7) at 7:00 p.m. as the No. 3 seed in the Horizon League Championship quarterfinals. The Bulldogs will take on the undetermined No. 6 seed, which could turn out to be Cleveland State, Loyola or Youngstown State.