The Butler women’s basketball team’s first season in the Big East Conference came to an end last Thursday, as the Bulldogs fell to the South Dakota State Jackrabbits 78-61 in the first round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.
Butler’s starting lineup struggled to hit shots for most of the game, as four of its five starters scored only two field goals. Junior center Liz Stratman led the way on offense, shooting 7-for-12 and tallying 15 points.
Butler’s energizer came off the bench in the form of junior guard Taylor Schippers. She quickly picked up the Bulldogs’ shooting percentage struggles, contributing 17 points off the bench.
South Dakota State was able to rotate its starters in and out consistently. The Jackrabbits used 14 different players in the game.
Senior guard Steph Paluch led the way for the Jackrabbits in points and assists, contributing14 points and five assists.
Butler finished its season with a 15-16 record, including a 10-8 conference mark. Senior starters Daress McClung and Mandy McDivitt led the Bulldogs in minutes played and points scored several times in the regular season.
A rocky pre-conference slate brought Butler into the Big East season at 5-6. Coach Beth Couture’s defense-first coaching style helped provide the Bulldogs an advantage in conference action, however.
Butler will retain three of its starting five players for next season. Stratman, Schippers and sophomore forward Haley Howard will all be returning for the Bulldogs to attempt a run at the Big East Conference championship.
Looking to next season, to try and replace McDivitt and McClung on the roster, Couture has signed two guards that will play for Butler next year. Nicole Orr is a wing from Whitehall-Yearling High School. She is ranked 90th among the 2014 recruiting class guards in the country.
Butler is also bringing on Fort Wayne, Ind.,native Sydney Buck from Homestead High School. Orr and Buck will join a talented group of guards Butler already has in Schippers, and sophomores Lexus Murry and Blaire Langlois.