December 20, 2006

Bulldogs Face Tennessee State On Wednesday

Dec. 20, 2006

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Game #11
Butler (2-8) at Tennessee State (2-4)

Date: Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Time: 7:00 p.m. CST
Location: Gentry Center (10,600) Nashville, Tenn.

Tip-Off: Butler continues on its month-long road trip when it takes on Tennessee State on Wednesday (Dec. 20) beginning at 7:00 p.m. CST in the Gentry Center in Nashville. The two teams will be meeting for the first time in school history.

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.

Previewing The Bulldogs: The Bulldogs (2-8) continue to use the three-pointer as their main offensive weapon this season, with over a third (71-of-204) of their field goals coming from beyond the arc. Senior guard Jackie Closser leads the team with 11.6 points per game thanks in part to 19 treys, and senior guard Ellen Hamilton has hit a team-best 23 triples for 10.5 ppg. In her first game with the Bulldogs since transferring from Indiana, sophomore guard/forward Tara Miller provided an offensive boost against Louisville (Dec. 18) with 14 points. Junior forward Cassie Freeman adds a three-point threat from the post position with a .519 three-point percentage, while sophomore center Lade Akande gives the Bulldogs a strong inside presence with 10.8 ppg and 4.0 rebounds per game. Sophomores Candyce Brown and Candace Jones have each added depth on the perimeter, while freshmen forwards Susan Lester and Mel Thornton are the top post options off the bench. Head coach Beth Couture (309-191) is in her fifth season with the Bulldogs.

No. 16 Louisville Escapes With Win: Butler put together its most inspired performance of the season so far, battling No. 16 Louisville toe-to-toe until the final minute, as the Cardinals escaped with the decision in an 80-77 thriller on Dec. 18. Butler rallied from a 12-3 deficit early in the contest to build up a 27-19 advantage before carrying a three-point lead into the locker room at the half. The second period, however, was all Angel McCoughtry, as the Cardinal forward scored 34 of her 38 points after the break, and Louisville rallied for the win in the final minute despite five Butler players finishing the game in double-figures.

Closser Reaches 1,000 First: With her fourth three-pointer of the game at the 2:37 mark of the first half, senior guard Jackie Closser became just the 17th player in Butler history to eclipse 1,000 points in her career. She finished the night with 18 points, going 6-of-14 from the field with all of her makes coming from beyond the arc. With 1,006 points in her career, she now stands just 13 points shy of Liesl Schultz (1,019) for 16th all-time.

...But Hamilton Isn't Far Behind: It won't be too long before yet another Bulldog cracks 1,000 points in her career. Senior guard Ellen Hamilton is now a mere 10 points short of the millennium mark at 990 after finishing with 13 points against Louisville on Dec. 18.

It's Miller Time: Sophomore guard Tara Miller took the floor for the first time in a Butler uniform when the Bulldogs took on Louisville on Dec. 18. Miller was required to sit out for the past two semesters due to residency requirements after transferring from Indiana last fall. The 5-10 guard earned the start in her first Butler game and delivered with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting and a team-best three steals.

Triple Threat: The Bulldogs continue to turn to the three-pointer to power their offense this season. Butler leads the Horizon League with 7.1 three-pointers made per game after leading the conference and ranking fifth in the NCAA in triples last season.

Keeping it Going: With her three-pointer at 12:33 of the first half against Louisville, Jackie Closser extended her consecutive games with a three-pointer to 38 straight. So far this season, she is 19-of-78 from beyond the arc and leads the team with 11.6 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.

Will The Real Jackie Closser Please Stand Up?: Despite Closser's consistency at hitting three-pointers, she had struggled to find her stroke in the first nine games this season, hitting no more than two in a game. That all changed at Louisville on Dec. 18, however, as she returned to her devastating self from downtown against the Cardinals, tying her career-high with six triples made.

Hamilton Leads the Way: Senior Ellen Hamilton has been a major factor in the Bulldogs' success from downtown this season, leading the squad with 23 three-pointers and ranking second in the Horizon League with 2.3 triples per game.

...And Freeman Makes The Most Of Her Shots: Junior Cassie Freeman has taken advantage of just about every opportunity she has from behind the arc, going 14-of-27 for three and leading the Horizon League with a .519 three-point percentage.

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 5-of-15 from three for a .333 shooting percentage, while sophomore guard Tara Miller netted four of her eight attempts in just her first game with the team. Meanwhile, forward Susan Lester has added long range ability from the post position with four treys of her own.

Holiday Vacation: The Bulldogs will be spending quite a bit of time on a bus and in hotel rooms for the next month, as Butler takes to the road for five-straight contests. After making non-conference stops against Louisville (Dec. 18) and Tennessee State (Dec. 20), the Bulldogs open up the Horizon League slate at Cleveland State (Dec. 28) before heading to Youngstown State (Dec. 30) and finishing the swing at Wright State (Jan. 6). Butler returns to Indianapolis on Jan. 11 to host UIC.

Crime Prevention: Opponents have had a rather difficult time attempting to pick the pockets of the Butler players this season. The Bulldogs have yielded 16.2 turnovers per game this year, the second-fewest in the Horizon League, and also rank third in assists-to-turnovers ratio at 0.8. Butler's six turnovers against Air Force on Nov. 22 is also the lowest single-game total in the Horizon League this season.

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 is currently fifth in the league in free-throw efficiency, netting 25 of her 32 attempts for a .781 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 14-of-16 shots from the stripe to lead the team with a .875 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 be tops in the conference standings.

Adding To Her Repertoire: Sophomore center Lade Akande has always been a presence in the paint for the Bulldogs, but she has just recently become a threat from the free throw line. In the Bulldogs' last three games, Akande has converted 18 of her 25 attempts from the charity stripe for a .667 percentage while tying her career-high for makes with nine against Evansville on Dec. 6. In her first five games, she was just 6-of-20 (.300) on the year.

Block Party: The Bulldogs are one of the top blocking teams in the Horizon League this year, ranking second with 3.2 blocks per game. Three Butler players also find themselves among the top 15 in the conference, with sophomore Lade Akande (1.0 blocks per game) and freshman Mel Thornton (1.0) tied for fourth and junior Cassie Freeman (0.5) tied for 13th.

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 46 assists on the year and is second in the Horizon League with 4.6 assists per game. She also touts 369 assists in her career, the sixth-most in school history, and is just 13 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 five of nine games this season and has played no fewer than 37 minutes in any contest. She currently leads the team and the Horizon League with 38.8 minutes per game. Senior Ellen Hamilton also finds herself among the league leaders, averaging 29.6 minutes per game for 14th place.

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.

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.

At The Buzzer: Butler opens the Horizon League schedule following a break for Christmas when the Bulldogs take on Cleveland State on Dec. 28 at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland beginning at 7:00 p.m.