Senior guard Caroline Strande put up 17 points against Bradley. Photo courtesy of Butler Athletics.
DAVID JACOBS I SPORTS REPORTER I email@example.com
The women’s basketball team captured their fifth victory of the season in a dominating 67-46 win against Bradley on Nov. 29.
Led by senior guard Caroline Strande with 17 points, Butler was able to shoot themselves ahead to a 22-5 lead at the end of the opening quarter. Even as the Braves offense settled in, they never got closer than a 24-9 deficit after the opening quarter. The Dawgs’ defense constricted Bradley all game, giving up 46 points on just 37.5% shooting.
Perimeter shooting is something Butler struggled mightily with early in the season. They shot under 30% from deep in each of their first three games. Against Bradley, the Dawgs were able to shoot 43.5% from deep, their third time hitting that mark in the last four contests.
“I would say confidence [is the reason for the improved shooting],” Strande said. “Everyone has been putting in extra work to get their reps in.”
“I think we are just getting better shot selection,” Parkinson said. “We got some really good shooters on the team, and they are going to make shots, but we were due.”
Another key struggle throughout the season for the Bulldogs has been ball movement and limiting turnovers. Having just two prior games against Iowa State and Roosevelt with a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, Butler was able to dish out 20 dimes to pair with a season low of 10 turnovers.
“When we turn it over, we do not play on balance,” Parkinson said. “I thought we played under control and in transition we scored the ball well. When we play on balance, we tend to take care of the ball.”
Outside of a sloppy game against Detroit Mercy, one of the best at taking care of the ball is junior guard Ari Wiggins.
“I love how she is playing right now,” Parkinson said. “Four assists for the second straight game, getting her hands in the passing lane, and [she is] really setting the tone for us.”
Maintaining the lead
It may be obvious, but maintaining the lead is always a crucial key to any victory. Coming out to a 22-5 lead after the first quarter, it takes focus to maintain those big leads which the Dawgs lacked in their 68-62 victory over the Detroit Mercy Titans.
Against the Titans, the Dawgs got out to an 11-0 start. That 11-0 lead would fizzle, so against Bradley lasting defense was an emphasis to make sure the Braves were not able to come back.
“Through three quarters we defended great,” Parkinson said. “We wanted to get people on the floor, getting deflections. I think we ended up with 10 steals and eight of those were in the first half.”
The Dawgs did not score a single point in the final four minutes of the contest, yet still walked away with an easy 21-point victory.
Noted by Parkinson, the first three quarters featured more of their starters and core players, before going deeper into the bench for the final stanza, which may have led to the lackluster finish.
Leaning on a defense led by Wiggins and an offense led by Strande, the Dawgs will have their biggest test of the season since their season-opening loss to Iowa State when they play at Wisconsin on Dec. 3.