Senior guard Kendall Wingler led the team in points with 18. Photo courtesy of Butler Athletics.
DAVID JACOBS | SPORTS REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
The women’s basketball team secured their first victory in their season home opener 68-61 against Detroit Mercy on Nov. 12.
Led by senior guard Kendall Wingler with 18 points off the bench, Butler was able to pace themselves ahead of Detroit Mercy quickly with an 11-0 run to start the game. As the Titans settled in offensively, a 53% three point shooting clip enabled them to keep the game competitive in the second half and even take a brief lead for a total of one minute in the third quarter.
“I was proud of how we battled back after blowing the lead,” head coach Austin Parkinson said. “I thought our shot selection has been a little loose in the last two games. [I] have not seen it in practice, just the games.”
Despite the questionable shot selection, Wingler was joined by junior forward Sydney Janes, senior guard Caroline Strande and junior guard Ari Wiggins who scored 10, 11 and 15 points, respectively, as double digit scorers. Strande added seven rebounds on the night, cementing her title as the best rebounder on the team despite standing at just under six feet tall.
Turnovers: The good and the bad
Last week against Iowa State, the Dawgs were able to record six steals throughout the game and force 14 turnovers. Tonight’s game was no different as Wiggins led the way pitching in three steals and a block to the team’s total of five steals and three blocks.
“For us, defense is our main thing,” Wiggins said. “That is what coach [Parkinson] emphasizes each week. He wants us to be aggressive and wear the other team down.”
In total, the Dawgs were able to force 18 Detroit Mercy turnovers, which ultimately was the deciding factor in the outcome.
“Coming out with intensity, especially at the end of the game, getting stops and steals is what we pride ourselves on to win games,” Wiggins said.
One positive in the loss to Iowa State was the team’s ability to maintain ball control with 13 assists and just 11 turnovers. However, against a less reputable Detroit Mercy team the Dawgs put together just nine assists to pair with 17 turnovers.
“We are not getting people easy shots, which is something that we try to pride ourselves on,” Parkinson said. “We have to take care of the basketball, and we have to play as a unit. Sometimes [we] try to do a little too much, and we just have to slow down and get quality shots.”
Three point troubles
In consecutive weeks now, the Dawgs have shot 30% or less from three point range as a team. Despite offensive weapons like junior forward Jordan Meulemans and Wingler who combined for four three pointers on just nine attempts against Detroit Mercy, the rest of the team shot two of 11 from range.
“I think we have a lot of shooters on the team,” Wiggins said. “We have a lot of confidence in ourselves and each other that we can keep shooting the ball. We are going to keep shooting — the next one [is] always going to go in.”
The sixth man missing in action
In a close game like this one, on the court there are a lot of controllables such as making a shot, playing as a team and limiting turnovers. However, one thing left uncontrolled by the players on the court is the environment made by the fans which can help swing momentum in a basketball game. Despite this, the loudest fans in Hinkle Fieldhouse were on the Detroit Mercy bench.
“We have a full house for the men’s games, and we would love to see them support our ladies,” Parkinson said. “Our team is improving and is fun to watch. We have been in the community and on campus, and they are an easy group of kids to root for.”
It is not just Butler’s women’s team that is on the rise, the sport as a whole is rapidly growing and all eyes need to be on these athletes.
“The women’s game is growing; having our student section filled up would be really cool,” Wiggins said. “Just as a home team having the stands full, the games [this year] are going to be great.”
The women’s team is back in action next week against Austin Peay at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Nov. 18.