November 20, 2008

Bulldogs Host Dayton In Home Opener Friday

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GAME 3
Dayton (1-2) at Butler (1-1)
Friday, Nov. 21 - 7:00 p.m.
Hinkle Fieldhouse - Indianapolis, Ind.

The Opening Tip: Butler kicks off the 2008-09 home schedule this weekend when it welcomes Dayton to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Friday (Nov. 21) beginning at 7:00 p.m. The Bulldogs will take on the Flyers for the first time since the 1994-95 season and will try to build on their recent success after claiming a convincing 72-56 victory at IPFW on Tuesday (Nov. 18).

Butler Basketball On The Web: Butler's contest against Dayton will feature live streaming video online at the Horizon League Network. Cory Stark and Mark Minner 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.

The Bulldogs At A Glance: Butler enters Friday's contest with a 1-1 record on the year. The Bulldog's post trio of junior Melanie Thornton (15.0 points, 10.5 rebounds), senior Lade Akande (13.0, 6.0) and junior Susan Lester (11.0, 6.5) pace the team in scoring and rebounding and rank among the top-10 in the Horizon League in both categories. Rookie guard Devin Brierly has shown signs of becoming a strong offensive threat on the perimeter, averaging 6.5 points per contest with three treys. Senior guard Candace Jones and sophomore guard Brittany Bowen have been steady on the offensive end, averaging 6.5 and 4.5 points per game, respectively. Sophomore guard Terra Burns and senior forward Tara Miller have each averaged 2.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in two starts this season. Senior guard Candyce Brown, sophomore guard Azjah Bass and sophomore forward Chloe Hamilton have added depth off the bench.

A Look At Dayton: The Flyers enter Friday's contest with a 1-2 record after claiming their first victory of the season in a 68-61 decision over St. Mary's on Monday (Nov. 17). The win followed a pair of season-opening set-backs, coming at the hands of Texas (40-66) and Old Dominion (58-70). The Flyers have averaged just over 55 points per game while allowing an average of 66 in their three matches. Sophomore guard Kristin Daugherty leads the team with 22.3 points per contest thanks in part to a 9-for-15 (.600) effort from three-point range and a perfect 14-of-14 mark from the line. Freshman forward Justine Raterman has averaged a team-high 12.7 rebounds while chipping in 12.0 points per game.

The Match-Up: Butler and Dayton will be meeting for the 22nd time in women's basketball on Friday and for the first time since 1995, with the Flyers holding a 12-9 edge in the all-time series that dates back to the 1980-81 campaign. Dayton claimed the first eight match-ups in the series before the Bulldogs scored their first victory during the 1986-87 season. Since then, Butler has won eight of the past 12 meetings - including the last five straight - before the series was put on hold.

Battle-Tested: Butler will take on as many as nine opponents this season that advanced to post season play last year, including Cleveland State, Dayton, Evansville, Green Bay, Indiana, Miami (Ohio), Nebraska, New Mexico and Ohio State. So far, the Bulldogs are 0-1 against their tough competition, as the Buckeyes handed them a season-opening defeat on Nov. 14.

Bring `Em Back: Butler returns 11 of 13 letterwinners from 2007-08, accounting for 91 percent of its scoring, 91 percent of its rebounding and 92 percent of its assists.

The Last Time Out: Lade Akande led all scorers with 18 points, Susan Lester and Melanie Thornton each notched double-doubles and the Bulldogs used an efficient second-half scoring surge en route to a convincing 72-56 victory at IPFW on Tuesday (Nov. 18) evening at the Hilliard Gates Sports Center. Butler shot 48.5 percent from the field in the second period - including a 55.6 percent effort from beyond the arc - to fend off the host Mastodons for its first win of the season. Butler shot 42.9 percent from the field (27-for-63) while hitting five of 15 from three-point range. After yielding seven turnovers in the opening period, the Bulldogs settled down and coughed up just two in the second to finish, including one on a tie-up.

Thorn-ton In Their Side: It may only be two games into the year, but junior forward Melanie Thornton is off to easily the best start of her career. After posting a career-best 18 points and seven steals against a tough Ohio State team on Nov. 14, the Carmel, Ind., native registered her first collegiate double-double at IPFW on Nov. 18, finishing with 12 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. Her 15.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per contest are tops on the team, while her 30.5 minutes played also lead the squad. Last season, Thornton averaged 3.0 points in 6.2 minutes of play per game.

...And Among The League's Best: Thornton's performances in the first two games not only have her ranked at the top of the team's stats but also have her among the best in the Horizon League. Thornton finds herself listed in the league's top-10 in nine categories, including first-place rankings in rebounds and steals. She is also tied for fourth in scoring.

A Sign Of Things To Come: Freshman guard Devin Brierly didn't waste too much time to get started on her college career. The Hanover, Ind., native notched her first collegiate points against Ohio State on Nov. 14 hitting her second three-point attempt of the game a little over three minutes after subbing in. Four days later at IPFW, she drained a pair of treys during a critical second-half stretch to finish with 10 points while helping the Bulldogs to their first win of the year. Brierly finished her prep career at Southwestern High School with 1,278 points - the fourth-most in school history - and was presented with the team's 3-Point Award all four seasons.

Crime Prevention: Opponents have not had much luck picking the pockets of the Bulldogs in their first two games of the year. Butler has averaged just 10 turnovers per game so far this season, including season-low nine at IPFW after allowing only two in the entire second half. The Bulldogs' average puts themselves at the top of the league standings in turnovers per game and is 6.5 per game fewer than their next closest rival (Milwaukee - 16.5 per game).

...And Passing Well: Butler's league-leading 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio is 0.6 higher than second-place Milwaukee. The Bulldogs have dished 27 assists and allowed just 20 miscues.

Moving Up The List: Senior Lade Akande continues her ascent up the Bulldogs' all-time scoring list. With 18 points against IPFW on Nov. 18, the Robinson, Ill., native touts 1,386 points in her career, which ranks as the fifth-most all-time after passing both Sue Morris (1,375) and Beth Piepenbrink (1,378). She now just 63 points away from passing Barb Skinner's fourth-place total of 1,448, set from 1980-83. 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 Jennifer Marlow in 1997-98.

Next In Line?: In her third season with the team, sophomore Susan Lester has totalled 690 points in her career, the second most among Butler's active players.

In Elite Company: Lade Akande not only ranks among the top Butler scorers, but she is also fourth on the Butler charts with 112 career blocks. Additionally, with 585 career rebounds, she is 15 boards shy of becoming just the fourth Bulldog player ever with at least 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 100 blocks in her career. Akande currently ranks third on the team with 6.5 rebounds per game.

Getting Started: Sophomore guard Terra Burns earned her first collegiate start at Ohio State last weekend and played a career-high 20 minutes with two rebounds and an assist. She picked up her second start four days later at IPFW, pulling in three rebounds and dishing three assists in 19 minutes of action. The Peoria, Ill., native came off the bench in 16 games as a freshman, averaging 4.4 minutes per contest.

National Attention: The Butler women's basketball team will get national attention later in the season, as the Bulldogs' 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 carried on ESPNU.

Butler Basketball On The Web: Twenty-three of the Bulldogs' games this season will feature 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' match at Indiana will be streamed at BigTenNetwork.com, while its contest at Ohio State last weekend was carried on the online network.

Hard To Miss: Lade Akande was not only one of the most effective scorers in the Horizon League last year, she was also one of the most efficient shooters in the nation. Akande finished the 2007-08 season with a .559 field goal percentage (204-for-365), the 17th-best in the Division I rankings.

National Recognition For Passing: Tara Miller found herself among the best in the country when it came to handling the ball during the 2007-08 campaign. She finished the season ranked second in all of the NCAA Division-I with a 2.84 A/T ratio, just three hundredths of a point behind national leader Kristi Cirone of Illinois State (2.87). Miller was ranked first or second nationally in A/T ratio from Jan. 14 to the end of the year, including a 25-day stint from Jan. 14 to Feb. 7 at the top of the NCAA charts. Her 3.0 assists per game were the second-most on the team and the 14th most in the league.

Candace And Candyce: Different spellings but the same pronunciation -- and the same results. The Bulldogs received quite a few assists from the steady hands of guards Candace Jones and Candyce Brown during the 2007-08 season. Jones, a starter in 19 games during the year, led the team with 3.1 dishes per game, while Brown, a 13-game starter, ranked third with 2.4. In fact, one or the other was the assists leader in 18 of the team's games during the year.

Cleaning The Glass: Sophomore forward Susan Lester continued to be one of the best rebounders in the Horizon League in 2007-08 after finishing third in the league with 6.6 rebounds per game as a freshman. The Anderson, Ind., native finished second in the conference with 7.3 boards per game, posted nine or more rebounds on 12 occasions and totaled a team-best nine double-doubles.

Talented Rookie Tandem: Butler newcomers Devin Brierly and Kaley May will both be expected to make significant contributions in their first seasons with the team. Brierly, a 5-9 guard from Southwestern High School in Hanover, Ind., was a McDonalds All-America nominee, while May, a 5-11 guard/forward from Avon (Ind.) High School, was also nominated for the national award.

Butler Tabbed Fifth In Preseason Poll: The Butler women's basketball team was picked to finish fifth in the Horizon League regular season this year according to the league's preseason poll. The Bulldogs received a total of 204 points in the poll as well as one first-place vote. Green Bay, last year's regular season champion, was the poll's top vote getter, garnering 284 total points and 24 of the 29 first-place ballots. Wright State (241 point, 1 first place vote) edged out Milwaukee (240, 2) for second place overall, while 2008 Horizon League tournament champion Cleveland State (228, 1) checked in at fourth-place.

Akande, Lester Earn Preseason Honors: For the fourth-straight season, a pair of Bulldogs earned spots on the Preseason All-Horizon League teams, as senior center Lade Akande was named to the all-league first team and junior forward Susan Lester was tabbed to the second team. Akande, a native of Robinson, Ill., earns mention on the preseason squads for the third-straight season, while Lester, a native of Anderson, Ind., receives the honor for the second time in as many years.

Crunching The Numbers: The Bulldogs' 20-10 overall mark in 2007-08 was the program's best single-season record since the 1997-98 team finished the year at 25-6. Butler's 20 victories were also the most in a single season during head coach Beth Couture's six years at the helm.

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 in the fall of 2009.

Next Up: Butler heads to the Southwest next weekend, as it travels to Albuquerque, N.M., for the Holiday Inn & Suites Express Midtown Thanksgiving Tournament from Nov. 28-29. The Bulldogs battle Nebraska on Nov. 28 before facing either William and Mary or the host Lobos on Nov. 29.