November 26, 2005

Bulldogs Battle Saint Mary's for Thanksgiving Classic Title

Nov. 26, 2005

Complete Notes in PDF Format

THE TIP: Butler continues its trip out west with a 7 p.m. (PST, 10 p.m. Indianapolis) contest against host Saint Mary's in the championship game of the Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic in Moraga, Calif. The Bulldogs advanced to Saturday's title game with a victory over Central Florida Friday night, while the Gaels downed Princeton. Live stats for the contest are available through Gametracker on www.butlersports.com.

THE SERIES: Saint Mary's won the only previous match-up between the two schools, a 76-66 victory on Dec. 2, 1995. The two teams met in the first game of the Arizona State Dial Classic in Tempe, Ariz., on a neutral court.

LISTEN LIVE: Josh Rattray returns as the play-by-play voice of the Bulldogs this season and is joined by Cory Schnurbusch in bringing the action of Butler basketball live on www.butlersports.com all season. Butler Athletics will provide the feed free to fans this season and will also have a video stream available for all home contests and Horizon League games.

`EL' YEAH, SHE HAD A BIG NIGHT: Junior Ellen Hamilton hit 7-of-9 shots from the field, including five three-pointers, en route to a game-high 19 points against Purdue Nov. 18 in Butler's season opener. She out-did that performance Friday against Central Florida, connecting on all four of her three-point attempts and finishing with 16 points. Hamilton also hit all four of her free throw attempts.

Hamilton is shooting an unreal 90 percent (9-10) from behind the arc so far this season.

BIG DAY FOR LADE: In just her second collegiate game, freshman Lade Akande posted a double-double with game-high totals of 23 points and 12 rebounds against Central Florida. She went 9-of-17 from the field and hit five free throws. The 23 points is the best single-game mark for the Bulldogs so far this season and betters any individual scoring performance from last season as well.

`TREY' BIEN: Led by five from Ellen Hamilton, Butler went 10-of-18 from three-point range Nov. 18 at Purdue. Five different Butler players hit treys in the game. Led by Hamilton's four bombs Friday against Central Florida, Butler went 7-of-12 from behind the arc. So far this season, the Bulldogs have knocked down 17 of 30 three-point attempts, a 57 percent clip.

The Bulldogs led the Horizon League and finished eighth in the nation last season with an average of 7.3 three-pointers made per game. The 2004-05 squad set a new team mark with 204 treys on the season.

MAKE A DISH: Junior Jackie Closser handed out a season-high six assists in Friday's win over Central Florida. The floor general also had just two turnovers in 37 minutes against the Golden Knights' pressure defense. Closser led the team and finished in the Top 50 nationally last season with an average of 4.9 assists per game.

MORE OPTIONS: Sophomore Cassie Freeman played a complementary role in Friday's win, posting eight points and six rebounds in 26 minutes. She made three of four shots, including both her three-point attempts.

`BOARD' OUT OF HER MIND: Senior Stephanie Boeke pulled down four rebounds off the bench Friday against Central Florida. That combined with her eight caroms against Purdue give her an average of 6.0 rebounds per game. Six of her 12 boards have been on the offensive end.

TALE OF TWO TWENTIES: After shooting just 28 percent and committing 14 turnovers in the first half against Purdue, Butler out-scored the nationally-ranked (No. 19/24) host Boilermakers, 39-38, in the second 20 minutes. Butler hit seven three-pointers and shot 50 percent overall in the second half. The Bulldogs also out-rebounded the larger home team, but couldn't overcome a large first-half deficit in the 85-59 decision.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Butler tipped off the 2005-06 season with an exhibition win over the Hoosier Lady Stars Nov. 9. Freshman center Lade Akande led the Bulldogs with 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Junior college transfer Carla Gheorghe had 12 points to go along with a team-high eight rebounds. Butler led by as many as 15 in the 71-66 win.

EARLY RECOGNITION: Butler's junior backcourt of Jackie Closser and Ellen Hamilton earned preseason "All-Horizon League" second-team honors. The juniors combined for 22 points a game last season.

BULLDOGS PICKED FIFTH: The Horizon League's head coaches tabbed Butler to finish fifth in the upcoming season, as the preseason poll almost mirrored the final standings from 2004-05. UW-Green Bay was picked to win the league championship.

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE THE ROAD FOR THE HOLIDAYS: Butler has enjoyed recent success over the Thanksgiving holiday. Under coach Beth Couture, the Bulldogs have done some touring and competing in Fresno, Calif.; Miami, Fla.; St. Louis, Mo.; and now San Francisco, Calif. Two seasons ago in Miami, Butler knocked off Chattanooga in the opening round of the four-team tournament. That season, the only two regular season losses suffered by the Lady Mocs came at the hands of Butler and Tennessee. Last season, tournament MVP Ellen Hamilton led the Bulldogs to a Billiken Classic championship, averaging 16.5 points per game as Butler downed Austin Peay and Alabama A&M.

THE VETERANS: Butler's roster features four seniors this season. Nikki Budgake and Stephanie Boeke begin their fourth season under coach Beth Couture, while junior college transfers Gina Grussing and Jessica Smart enter their second and final campaign at Butler. Grussing is returning to action after an ACL tear sidelined her for the final 10 games of the 2004-05 season.

THE NEWCOMERS: Butler adds a talented class of rookies, led by junior college transfer Carla Gheorghe, who earned NJCAA All-American honors at Vincennes (Ind.) University last season. She joins freshmen Lade Akande, Candyce Brown and Candace Jones.

QUICK SHOTS: Senior Stephanie Boeke and junior Jackie Closser will serve as captains for the 2005-06 season...Butler's regular season game at UW-Green Bay has been moved from Saturday, Jan. 21 to Sunday, Jan. 22 to accommodate ESPNU, which will be airing the game live at noon (CST, 1 p.m. Indianapolis)...Butler head coach Beth Couture is one of 31 coaches voting on this season's USA Today/ESPN Top 25 poll. Couture represents the Horizon League on the weekly ballot.

WE'RE GOING STREAKING: The Bulldogs have made at least one three-pointer in 126 straight games, dating back to Feb. 1, 2001.

THIS YEAR'S SLATE: In addition to the home-and-home regular season series against all eight Horizon League foes, Butler's 2005-06 schedule includes six in-state foes (Purdue, Indiana State, Ball State, Evansville, IUPUI and IPFW). That's the highest number of Hoosier opponents since the 1989-90 campaign. The non-conference schedule also includes the Thanksgiving tournament in California, Eastern Illinois, Miami (Ohio) and UMBC.

THE BEST THAT EVER PLAYED...HERE: Butler Basketball is asking for fans' help in celebrating the university's Sesquicentennial. In recognizing the school's storied 150 years, a fifteen-player men's team and ten-player women's squad will be honored as the "Teams of the Sesquicentennial." The teams will be chosen by an online vote in partnership with voting panels of former coaches, players and media members. The online ballot for both the men's and the women's teams can be accessed at www.butlersports.com. The women's team will be announced at the Jan. 28 home doubleheader against Wright State.