Sophomore guard Jordan Meulemans scored a career-high 24 points against St. Thomas on Nov. 25. Photo courtesy of Butler Athletics.
SAWYER GOLDWEIN | SPORTS REPORTER | email@example.com
Butler opened up against the Pacific Tigers on Nov. 24. The Bulldogs fell behind early against Pacific and could not recover, dropping the contest 77-66. They bounced back in a big way, though, coasting to a 76-54 victory over St. Thomas-Minnesota on Nov. 25 to leave the West Coast with a 3-2 record on the season.
It was a tale of two games for the Dawgs, who looked stagnant against Pacific and could not find much offense throughout the game, especially in the first half. They followed up that performance by shooting the lights out against the Tommies of St. Thomas, marking their most impressive offensive half of the season.
Shooting is key
The shooting told the story during Butler’s trip to California. Against Pacific, the Dawgs shot 43.1% from the field, including just 29.1% in the first half. Three pointers were a major struggle, with Butler going just two of 13 from deep before the break. The Bulldogs improved their shooting in the second half, but ultimately could not climb out of the eight point hole they put themselves in.
Things looked a little different from the moment the Dawgs tipped off against St. Thomas. Graduate wing Rachel Kent and sophomore guard Jordan Meulemans led Butler to a seven for 12 clip from downtown in the first quarter — a sign of things to come.
The Bulldogs finished the game with a 47.1% mark from three-point range. Meulemans was the main catalyst for the sharp shooting, going a whopping eight for 10. The eight made threes were a career-high for Meulemans, as were her 24 points.
Kent lit it up as well, to the tune of four for 11 from long range and a season-high 15 points.
Nobody stuffed the stat sheet as much as senior guard Caroline Strande, though. The Wisconsin native was all over the floor as always, and it showed up in a big way. She poured in 17 points on 50% from the field. Strande also added a season-high nine rebounds and registered two steals.
Shake-up down low
In a move that could easily get lost in the shuffle among the shooting storylines, head coach Austin Parkinson made a change to his starting lineup against St. Thomas — the first time he has done so this season.
Junior forward Sydney Jaynes came off the bench for the first time since her debut season, with sophomore forward Lilly Stoddard slotting in as part of the starting unit for the first time in her collegiate career.
The swap came on the heels of the Bulldogs’ loss to Pacific, in which Jaynes put up nine points and two rebounds, but also turned the ball over three times in 16 minutes of play. Stoddard logged 13 minutes in the game, recording four points, two rebounds and two blocks against the Tigers.
It is not yet clear whether Jaynes will continue to come off the bench in the future — especially after she rejoined the starting unit on the floor to begin the second half — but it seemed to serve her well against the Tommies. She shot 50% from the field on her way to an 18 point performance, her highest total of the season. Jaynes also grabbed a season-high seven rebounds and stayed active on defense, with four steals.
Meanwhile, Stoddard played just seven minutes despite getting the start. She did not score in the game.
Stoddard’s starting spot was not the only surprising element of Parkinson’s rotation.
First-year forward Cristen Carter was the best Butler big on the floor against Pacific, scoring 10 points and adding seven rebounds without turning the ball over. Despite the strong showing, Carter did not play a single minute the next day against St. Thomas.