December 21, 2008

Bulldogs Host Indiana State In Mid-Day Affair On Monday

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GAME 10
Indiana State (3-7) at Butler (4-5)
Monday, Dec. 22 - 12:00 noon
Hinkle Fieldhouse - Indianapolis, Ind.

The Opening Tip: Coming off wins in three of its last four games, Butler returns to Hinkle Fieldhouse for the first of four-straight home games when it takes on Indiana State on Monday (Dec. 22) beginning at 12:00 noon. The Bulldogs will have had over a week off from competition following a break for finals, while the Sycamores will be playing for the third time in four days when the two teams clash.

Butler Basketball On The Web: Butler's contest against Indiana State will feature live streaming video online at the Horizon League Network. Mark Minner and Carl Heck 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: The Bulldogs will play for their fourth win in five games when it hosts Indiana State on Dec. 22. Butler has battled through a challenging non-league schedule that has featured six teams that advanced to post-season play in 2007-08, including nationally-ranked Ohio State, Dayton, Nebraska, Evansville, Indiana and Miami (Ohio). The post players have been the driving force behind Butler's game this season, as senior Lade Akande (13.7 points, 6.8 rebounds), junior Melanie Thornton (13.1, 9.1) and junior Susan Lester (7.2, 5.3) ranking as the top three on the team in both points and rebounds. Success on the perimeter has been the team's critical element, however, as the Bulldogs are 4-1 on the year when scoring at least five three pointers. Freshman Devin Brierly (11 three-pointers), sophomore Brittany Bowen (10) and senior Candace Jones (9) have stepped out their outside shooting in recent games to aid the cause. 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 Sycamores: Indiana State enters Monday's with a 3-7 record after ending a four-game losing streak with a 64-51 win over Eastern Illinois on Friday (Dec. 19) before falling to undefeated and nationally-ranked Kansas State, 58-43, on Saturday (Dec. 20). The Sycamores have used the three-pointer to power its offense to just over 60 points per game, averaging 6.9 treys per contest. Junior guard Kelsey Luna paces the team with 14.4 points per contest thanks to a team-high 3.0 three-pointers per game and leads the squad with 3.0 assists. Senior forward Kara Schilli leads the way 6.9 rebounds per game. Head coach Jim Wiedie is in his ninth season with ISU.

The Series History: Butler and Indiana State will be meeting for the 19th time in school history, with the Bulldogs holding a slim 10-8 advantage in the all-time series that dates back to the 1982-83 season. After Butler scored a 58-48 victory in the first meeting, ISU rallied for wins in six of the next seven meetings from 1984 to 1989, including a pair of three-game streaks. The Bulldogs turned the table by winning the next seven contests in a row before the series was put on hold following an 86-66 Butler win during the 1995-96 campaign. The Sycamores picked up back-to-back wins once the series resumed, coming during the 2002-03 and 2005-06 seasons. Butler picked up a win in the most recent meeting, however, topping ISU, 83-70, last season at the Hoosier Classic in Valparaiso, Ind.

Battle-Tested: Butler will match up with eight teams this season that advanced to post-season play during the 2007-08 campaign, including Cleveland State, Dayton, Evansville, Green Bay, Indiana, Miami (Ohio), Nebraska and Ohio State. So far, the Bulldogs have picked up wins against two such foes, including a 70-52 win at Evansville and an 86-81, double-overtime victory at Miami (Ohio).

Butler Escapes Miami With 2OT Win: Brittany Bowen posted a career-high 25 points, Lade Akande added 21 and the Bulldogs overcame a surging Miami (Ohio) team to claw their way to a grueling, 86-81, double-overtime victory at Millett Hall on Dec. 13 afternoon. The host RedHawks overcame a 13-point Butler advantage with 2:25 to go in regulation to knot the game up in the final seconds to force extra time. After playing to another draw through the first OT period, the Bulldogs used a quick three-pointer from Bowen and clutch makes from the free throw line by Terra Burns and Melanie Thornton to hold on for the gutsy win.

Extra, Extra: The Bulldogs double-overtime victory over Miami was the program's first win in extra time since defeating UIC in the semifinals of the 2007 Horizon League Championship and its first double-OT win since topping (coincidentally enough) UIC on Feb. 1, 1996.

Bowen To No One: Brittany Bowen put together her most impressive single-game performance of her career at Miami (Ohio) on Dec. 22. The Columbus, Ind., native went 8-for-10 from the field, 5-for-6 from three-point range and 4-of-4 from the free throw line to post a career-high 25 points against the RedHawks. Her eight field goals made, five treys made and 39 minutes played were all career-bests, while her eight rebounds tied her career mark.

Reign Of Threes: While dominant post play has become a trademark of the Bulldogs this season, their ability to score from beyond the arc has been crucial to their success. Butler boasts a 4-1 record when sinking at least five three-pointers in a game and has averaged 7.5 treys in its four victories - compared to 3.2 in its five defeats.

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 12 points more points per game than its foes (25.8 to 13.4). In fact, the Bulldog bench has accounted for nearly 42 percent of its scoring this year (232 of 556 points).

Thornton In Their Side: Melanie Thornton has not had much of a let down in any one of her nine games this year. The Carmel, Ind., has registered six double-figure scoring efforts and five double-digit rebounding performances while posting four 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 9.1 rebounds per contest and is second with 13.1 points per game.

Quite A Start: Through just nine games this season, Melanie Thornton has already put together a year to remember. Her 118 points, 82 rebounds and 252 minutes played are already well over her entire season totals from 2007-08 (73 points, 47 rebounds, 148 minutes played) and are quickly approaching her career totals entering the season (176, 141, 488).

Highway Robbery: Thornton's 28 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). Meanwhile, her 3.1 picks per game are the 27th most in the NCAA.

Among The League's Best: Thornton's performance in the first nine 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 1,483 points, 634 rebounds and 118 blocks in her career.

Moving Up The Scoring List: Lade Akande continues her ascent up the Bulldogs' all-time scoring list. After notching 21 points at Miami (Ohio) on Dec. 13, she touts 1,483 points in her career - the fourth-most all-time - and is just three points shy of moving into third-place past Jennifer Marlow (1,485). Akande has a good shot at catching second-place Elza Purvlicis (1,517), but first place is a ways off, as Julie VonDielingen holds the school record with 2,018 points. 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 Marlow in 1997-98.

...Among Other Lists: By pulling in 61 rebounds so far this season, Lade Akande has moved up into ninth place on the Bulldogs' career rebounding chart with 634 and is just 25 shy of passing both Sue Morris (657) and Liesl Schultz (658) for seventh all time. Akande also finds herself ranked in four other categories, including blocks (118 - 4th) and field goals made (609 - 3rd).

1,000 On The Radar: In her third season with the team, sophomore Susan Lester has totalled 733 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 87.

Taking Advantage Of Charity: It's not a bad thing. Susan Lester currently ranks second in the Horizon League by hitting 90 percent of her shots from the free throw line (18-for-20).

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 15.7 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 ranks them 34th in the NCAA Division I standings.

...From Effective Helpers: Two 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 second in the Horizon League with a 2.5 A/T ratio, while sophomore Brittany Bowen checks in an eighth-place tie with a 1.3 A/T ratio. The Bulldogs currently rank second in the league with a 0.9 A/T ratio.

Downtown Living: What a difference some downtown shooting 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 27 in their last four outings (6.3), including a season-high 10 at Evansville on Dec. 3. The added long-range effort helped the Bulldogs average over 12 points more in the last four games than they had in the previous five (68.8 to 56.2).

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 on a three-pointer against Ohio State on Nov. 14 just minutes after subbing in. She currently paces the team with 11 treys this year, ranks 10th in the Horizon League with 1.2 threes per game and is sixth in the conference with a .393 three-point percentage. 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.

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.

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' games at Ohio State and Indiana were both streamed live on BigTenNetwork.com.

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: After a break for Christmas, the Bulldogs welcome Christian Brothers to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Monday, Dec. 29, for a 7:00 p.m. contest.