December 4, 2006

Butler Heads To Evansville For Mid-Week Match-Up

Dec. 4, 2006

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Game #8
Butler (2-5) at Evansville (4-3)

Date: Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Time: 7:00 p.m. CST
Location: Roberts Stadium (11,600) Evansville, Ind.

Tip-Off: Butler heads down I-64 to Evansville on Wednesday (Dec. 6) for the 34th meeting between the Bulldogs and the Purple Aces beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Roberts Stadium. Butler touts an 18-14 record all-time against Evansville dating back to the 1979-80 season. The two teams have met each of the last four seasons, with the Bulldogs claiming an 83-78 victory last year.

Previewing The Bulldogs: Butler (2-5) continues to use the three-pointer as their main offensive weapon this season, with 30 percent (43-of-146) of the Bulldogs' field goals coming from beyond the arc. Senior guard Jackie Closser leads the team with 11.3 points per game, including 10 treys, and senior guard Ellen Hamilton has hit a team-best 16 triples for 10.7 ppg. Freshman forward Susan Lester has provided a strong inside presence, averaging 9.5 ppg and a team-high 5.5 rebounds per game, while junior forward Cassie Freeman and sophomore guard Candace Jones have each pulled in 3.9 rpg while adding significant outside shooting ability. Sophomore Candyce Brown is the leading reserve guard, while senior Carla Gheorghe and freshman Mel Thornton are the top post options off the bench. Head coach Beth Couture (309-188) is in her fifth season with the Bulldogs.

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 will feature live game action on the web at www.ButlerSports.com and will be offered for free. Butler will also have video streaming available for all home contests during the year.

Ball State Overpowers Bulldogs: Lisa Rusche led all scorers with 36 points and Ball State out-shot the Bulldogs, 55.0 percent to 36.8, as the Cardinals claimed a 97-65 decision over Butler in the second game of the State Farm Hoosier Classic on Dec. 2. Butler kept the game close in the first half, rallying from an 18-11 deficit on a 9-2 run to knot the game at 20-20. Ball State followed with a 12-2 run over their own, however and carried a 12 point advantage (42-30) into the locker room. A 17-6 run by the Cardinals to open the second half built up a 23-point advantage at 59-36 and put the game out of reach. Ellen Hamilton notched a team-high 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 for three, while Jackie Closser finished in double-figures with 13.

Triple Threat: The Bulldogs continue to turn to the three-pointer to power their offense this season. Butler ranks third in the Horizon League with 6.2 three-pointers made per game after leading the conference and ranking fifth in the NCAA in triples last season.

...And Hamilton Leads the Way: Senior Ellen Hamilton has been a major factor in the Bulldogs' success from downtown this season, leading the squad with 16 three-pointers and ranking third in the Horizon League with 2.3 triples per game.

Closser, Freeman, Jones and Lester: No, it's not a law firm, it's just an example of how many options the Bulldogs have for pulling the trigger from three. Guards Jackie Closser and Candace Jones have played significant roles on the perimeter, with Closser touting 10 treys and Jones hitting 4-of-10 (.400). Meanwhile, forwards Cassie Freeman and Susan Lester have added long range ability from the post position, as Freeman has hit nine three-pointers at a Horizon League-best 56.3 percent shooting, while Lester has gone 4-for-13 (.308) from three as the Bulldogs' center.

Crime Prevention: Opponents have had a rather difficult time attempting to pick the pockets of the Butler players this season. The Bulldogs have yielded only 14.1 turnovers per game this year, the second-fewest in the Horizon League, and also rank second in assists-to-turnovers ratio at 0.9. In fact, Butler has committed 15 or fewer turnovers in all but two games this year, including a league-low six against Air Force on Nov. 22.

The Race to 1,000: Thanks to 13 points against Ball State on Dec. 2, guard Jackie Closser (969) now stands just 31 points shy of becoming the 17th player in school history with 1,000 career points. Fellow guard Ellen Hamilton (960) is right behind after netting a team-best 14 points against the Cardinals and now stands just 40 points shy of 1,000 and only nine behind Closser.

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. The senior guard currently ranks third in the league in free-throw efficiency, netting 23 of her 28 attempts for a .821 average.

Under the Radar: You won't find her in the Horizon League rankings, but sophomore guard Candace Jones has been even stronger than Closser from the free-throw line. Jones has converted on 12-of-14 shots from the stripe to lead the team with a .857 free-throw percentage, but she does not qualify for the league standings because her mark falls just below the league minimum of two makes per game. If her figures did count, however, Jones would rank second in the conference.

Keeping it Going: With only 3:25 remaining in the Bulldogs' game against Ball State on Dec. 2, Jackie Closser pulled up from the right side of the arc and netted her first three-pointer of the game, continuing her 35-game streak with at least one three-pointer made. So far this season, she is 10-of-52 from beyond the arc and leads the team with 11.3 points per game. She made sure that every opponent got to feel her wrath from three-point last season, connecting from downtown in all 28 of her games played in 2005-06.

Block Party: The Bulldogs are one of the top blocking teams in the Horizon League this year, ranking third with 3.0 blocks per game. Three Butler players also find themselves among the top 15 in the conference, with junior Cassie Freeman (0.7 bpg) tied for seventh, freshman Mel Thornton (0.6) ranking 13th and senior Carla Gheorghe (0.5) tied for 14th.

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 leads the team with 34 assists on the year and paces the Horizon League with 4.9 assists per game. She also touts 357 assists in her career, the sixth-most in school history, and is just 25 behind Jennifer Marlow's fifth-place total of 382. The school record of 584 is held by Melissa Kilgore.

...And A Big Help All At Once: Closser's 11 assists against Bradley on Nov. 17 were a career-high for the 5-5 guard and is a Horizon League season-high.

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 the full 40 minutes in three of seven games this season and has played no fewer than 37 minutes in any contest. She currently leads the team and the Horizon League with 38.7 minutes per game. Senior Ellen Hamilton also finds herself among the league leaders, averaging 31.4 minutes per game for 10th place.

Doubling-Up: Senior Jackie Closser and freshman Susan Lester have each registered double-doubles this season. Closser scored the first against Bradley on Nov. 17, scoring 14 points and dishing 11 assists in the game. Lester followed just over a week later against Ohio on Nov. 26, scoring a season-best 24 points and 12 rebounds against the Bobcats.

Holiday Vacation: The Bulldogs might want to take photos of Hinkle Fieldhouse when they host Purdue on Dec. 10 because it will be the last time they see it for quite some time. Following their contest with the Boilermakers, the Bulldogs hit the road for the next five contests, making stops against Louisville (Dec. 18), Tennessee State (Dec. 20), Cleveland State (Dec. 28), Youngstown State (Dec. 30) and Wright State (Jan. 6) before returning to Indianapolis a month later on Jan. 11 to host UIC .

Feeling A Little Rejected: You really couldn't blame Air Force if they felt a little intimidated by the Bulldogs in their game on Nov. 22. That's because Butler notched 11 blocks in the contest, the highest single-game total in the Horizon League this season. Six players contributed at least once, with junior Cassie Freeman touting a career-best and league-high four. Additionally, freshmen Julie Seiss (1) and Mel Thornton (2) picked up their first career put-backs.

t's Miller Time: Well, not quite yet. Sophomore guard Tara Miller will have to wait until the Dec. 18 game at Louisville to become eligible for play this season. The 5-10 Ramsey, Ind. native transferred to Butler in the fall of 2005 from Indiana University.

Hamilton Earns All-Tournament Honors: After putting together a strong offensive effort in Butler's two Great Alaska Shootout games, senior guard Ellen Hamilton was tabbed to the All-Tournament Team. She was one of six players recognized in the tournament after combining for 28 points in the two games, including a Butler-best 17 points on 5-of-9 three-point shooting against UC Riverside in the Bulldogs' tournament opener. She also was a key contributor in Butler's rally against Air Force, finishing with 11 points.

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.

Lending A Helping Hand: The Butler women's basketball team took time out of their busy schedule on Nov. 4 to assist at the Special Olympics Area 8 Bowling Championships at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis. Members of the team and coaching staff helped out as lane assistants, runners and scorers for the event and presented the awards to the winners. Special Olympics Indiana provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for persons eight years of age and older with intellectual disabilities.

Bulldogs Tabbed Third: The Bulldogs were picked to finish third in the Horizon League this season in a poll of the league's coaches, sports information directors and media. Butler tallied 192 points in the poll, including one first-place vote, and finished just six points behind second-place UW-Milwaukee (198). UW-Green Bay was selected to win the regular season title, receiving 234 points and 22 of the 27 voters' first-place ballots.

Back For More: The Bulldogs return nearly 95 percent of their scoring from last season in their eight returning players. The octet also combined to nail down every one of the team's 223 three-pointers last year.

Doubling-Up the First Team: Senior Jackie Closser and sophomore Lade Akande were both mentioned among the Horizon League's finest as members of the 2006-07 Preseason All-League First Team. Butler was the only school to have multiple players mentioned on the five-player team.

At The Buzzer: Butler welcomes nationally-ranked Purdue to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Dec. 10 for a 3:00 p.m. game with the Boilermakers.