December 8, 2008

Bulldogs Meet Indiana In Bloomington On Tuesday

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GAME 8
Butler (3-4) at Indiana (5-2)
Tuesday, Dec. 9 - 7:00 p.m. ET
Assembly Hall - Bloomington, Ind.

The Opening Tip: Coming off a pair of decisive victories last week, the Bulldogs return to the road on Tuesday (Dec. 9) when they head to Bloomington, Ind., for a 7:00 p.m. contest with the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall. Butler will try to continue its recent success against IU, which enters the game having won four straight.

Butler Basketball On The Web: Butler's game against the Hoosiers will feature live streaming video at BigTenNetwork.com. The broadcast is free and can be accessed by clicking on the "Watch" link on the women's basketball schedule at www.ButlerSports.com. Live stats will also be available through Gametracker by clicking the Gametracker link on the schedule.

The Bulldogs At A Glance: Fresh off a pair of dominant victories, Butler heads to Bloomington with a 3-4 record on the year. After battling through a tough opening part of the non-league slate that featured three teams that advanced to post season play last year - including nationally-ranked Ohio State in the season-opener - the Bulldogs have out-scored their last two opponents by an average of 24 points per game while holding its foes to just 50 points per contest. A trio of post players has provided the bulk of the Bulldogs' scoring and rebounding this year, with junior Melanie Thornton (13.6 points, 9.9 rebounds), senior Lade Akande (13.1, 7.3) and junior Susan Lester (7.9, 6.0) ranking as the top three on the team in both categories. The perimeter players have stepped up their game recently, as senior Candace Jones (5.9 points), sophomore Brittany Bowen (5.0) and freshman Devin Brierly (4.1) have combined for 22 of the team's 36 three pointers made. 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 Hoosiers: Indiana heads into Tuesday's contest with a 5-2 record on the season after winning its last four games, including a 69-64 victory at Miami (Fla.) on Friday (Dec. 5). The Hoosiers have averaged nearly 70 points per game while holding their foes to just under 60 per contest thanks largely to a dominant inside scoring presence that touts a .442 field goal percentage (187-of-423). Four players tout double-digit scoring averages this season, including a team-high 15.9 points per game from senior forward Amber Jackson. Senior forward Whitney Thomas paces the squad with 9.7 rebounds per game, while junior guard Jamie Braun averages a team-high 4.0 assists per contest.

The Series History: Butler and IU will meet for the fourth time in women's basketball on Tuesday, with the Hoosiers having won all three previous meetings. After Indiana took a 75-57 decision in the first meeting during the 1989-90 season, the two programs met twice in the new millennium, with the Hoosiers winning, 97-72, in the most recent battle in 2001-02 at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Battle-Tested: Indiana will be the fifth team the Bulldogs will face this year that reached post-season play in 2007-08. Butler will match up with eight such teams this season, including Cleveland State, Dayton, Evansville, Green Bay, Indiana, Miami (Ohio), Nebraska and Ohio State. IU advanced to the second round of the WNIT last season.

Bulldogs Trounce Chanticleers: Four players finished with double-figure scoring totals - including a team-high 21 points and 10 rebounds by Lade Akande - and the Butler defense held visiting Coastal Carolina to a season-low 48 points as the Bulldogs rolled to a dominant 78-48 victory in Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday (Dec. 6) afternoon. The frigid and snowy weather outside the arena mirrored a cold shooting performance by the visiting Chanticleers, as Butler limited its opponent to just 15 field goals on 30.6 percent shooting (15-for-49) while holding them more than 15 points below their season scoring average heading into the game (63.6).

Akande Earns Weekly Honor: After supplying a huge boost in a pair of dominant wins for the Bulldogs last week, senior center Lade Akande was named the Horizon League's Women's Basketball Player of the Week. She notched her first double-double of the year with 10 points and 11 rebounds at Evansville on Wednesday (Dec. 3) in helping the Bulldogs to a convincing 70-52 win over the Purple Aces. Three days later (Dec. 6), she went for a season-high 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting and chipped in a game-high 10 boards while leading Butler to a blow-out 78-48 victory over Coastal Carolina.

30-Something: The Bulldogs' 78-48 victory over Coastal Carolina was the program's largest margin of victory since defeating Youngstown State, 79-45, on Feb. 14, 2004.

Downtown Living: What a difference a week 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 17 in their last two outings, including a season-high 10 at Evansville on Dec. 3. The added long-range offense has helped Butler raise its scoring average by over five points per game (56.2 to 61.3).

...But The Best Offense: Is a great defense. Butler has held its last two opponents to successive season-lows in the last week. The Bulldogs limited Evansville to a then-season-low 52 points on 16 field goals on Dec. 3 before smothering Coastal Carolina to a miniscule 48 points on 15 field goals on Dec. 6. Butler's 60.0 points allowed per game ranks as the fourth-best average in the Horizon League.

Keeping Up With Jones: It's been a hard thing to do lately. Senior Candace Jones has played a huge role in the Bulldogs long-distance scoring in the last week. The Indianapolis native went 4-for-7 from beyond the arc for 13 points at Evansville before hitting 4-of-5 from long range for 12 points against Coastal Carolina. Her nine treys on the year are tops on the team.

Thornton In Their Side: Melanie Thornton has not had much of a let down in any one of her six games this year. The Carmel, Ind., has registered five double-figure scoring efforts and four double-digit rebounding performances while posting three double-doubles - the first of her collegiate career. Her 18 points scored against Ohio State and Dayton and her 13 rebounds at IPFW are career-highs. She currently leads the team with 13.7 points and 10.2 rebounds per contest.

Quite A Start: Through just seven games this season, Melanie Thornton has already put together a year to remember. So far this season, she leads the team with 95 points, 69 rebounds and 198 minutes played - all of which are already more than her entire season totals from 2007-08 (73 points, 47 rebounds, 148 minutes played).

Highway Robbery: Thornton's 23 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 seven 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 rebounds and a second-place mark in steals.

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 1,452 points, 624 rebounds and 114 blocks in her three-plus seasons.

Moving Up The Scoring List: Lade Akande continues her ascent up the Bulldogs' all-time scoring list. After notching 10 points at Evansville on Dec. 3, she touts 1,431 points in her career: the fifth-most all-time after passing both Sue Morris (1,375) and Beth Piepenbrink (1,378) two weeks earlier. She is now just 18 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.

...Among Other Lists: By pulling in 41 rebounds so far this season, Lade Akande has moved up into ninth place on the Bulldogs' career rebounding chart with 614, passing both Julie Schrader (591) and Kelly Kuhn (593). Akande also finds herself ranked in four other categories, including blocks (114 - 4th) and field goals made (589 - 5th).

1,000 On The Radar: In her third season with the team, sophomore Susan Lester has totalled 723 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 85.

Effective Assistance: Butler's 1.1 assist-to-turnover ratio leads the Horizon League and is .08 ahead of runner-up UIC (1.09 to 1.01). The Bulldogs have dished 82 assists and allowed just 75 miscues on the year.

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 13.1 turnovers per game so far this season, including season-low nine at IPFW. The Bulldogs' average puts themselves at the top of the league standings in fewest turnovers per game and is 2.7 per game fewer than their next closest rival (UIC - 15.8 per game).

...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 third in the Horizon League with a 3.3 A/T ratio, while freshman Devin Brierly and sophomore Brittany Bowen are tied for fourth in the conference with a 2.0 A/T ratio.

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 11 points more points per game than its foes (25.7 to 14.2). In fact, the Bulldog bench has accounted for nearly 42 percent of its scoring this year (180 of 429 points).

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. Since then, she has drained seven more treys and is currently second on the team with 1.1 threes per game. Additionally, her .348 three-point percentage is second on the squad. 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.

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 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' match at Indiana will be streamed at BigTenNetwork.com, while its contest at Ohio State was carried on the online network.

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.

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.

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.

Next Up: The Bulldogs head to Oxford, Ohio, this weekend when they take on Miami (Ohio) beginning at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday (Dec. 13).