Butler loses the dog fight: Beyond The Box Score

Graduate wing Rachel Kent tied her season high of four made three pointers against UConn. Photo courtesy of Butler Athletics. 

DAVID JACOBS | SPORTS REPORTER | drjacobs@butler.edu

The Bulldogs opened up conference play with a 88-62 defeat against the 17th ranked UConn Huskies on Dec. 18. 

Despite efficient shooting and a hot start that saw the Dawgs take a controlling 29-23 lead midway through the second quarter, it was the post presence led by senior forward Aaliyah Edwards that gave UConn a dominating second half start. 

The biggest part to the Bulldog hot start was graduate wing Rachel Kent who scored nine of her team-high 13 points and three of her four three pointers in the opening quarter. 

Another bright spot was the energetic play of first-year guard Karsyn Norman. She saw a career high in points and assists in her 10 point, four assist outing off the bench. 

As a collective, the Dawgs shot 49% from the field and 62% from behind the arc. The ingredients for an upset were all there, but three crucial factors left the Dawgs in the dust in the second half. 

Defensive effort

Something that has been the pride of this Bulldog team and helped them win ugly against Austin Peay and Wisconsin is effort on the defensive end. Over the past five outings, the Dawgs averaged nearly 10 steals and 2.5 blocks per game. Those numbers dropped to four steals and one block in the loss against the Huskies. 

Outside of causing just eight turnovers, Butler allowed UConn to shoot 55.9% from the field and 44% from three. 

So much defensive attention was rightfully put on future WNBA stars guard Paige Bueckers and Edwards that it created too many open opportunities for the rest of their team. 

Post presence 

The Dawgs have young talent in 6’4” first-year Cristen Carter and sophomore Lilly Stoddard, but it will take time for them to get to a starting-caliber level. Meaning, that the rebound battle against the bigger teams will need to be a team effort. 

Besides the size disadvantage that has been shown, the leading rebounder is the 5’11” senior guard Caroline Strande with nearly four more rebounds per game than anybody else on the team. Not a negative against Strande for crashing the paint for boards, but there should be more than one player averaging more than four rebounds a game on the team.

Free throws

Going hand-in-hand with the lack of post presence, the Dawgs attempted less free throws for the sixth time this season against Connecticut. 

Albeit, just five points were left at the charity stripe as Butler went 2-7 from the line so no difference would have been made. However, as an already undersized team the way to create an advantage in the post is to draw shooting fouls. 

Not only will more free throws give a team that is right at the national average of about 68% easy points, but it will help stop opponents from getting on big runs and keep momentum on the right side. 

The Dawgs have made massive strides this season. The 26 point defeat is nearly half the size of the average margin of loss over the first five games played against UConn.

Butler will return to Hinkle Fieldhouse to take on Ohio on Dec. 21 before continuing Big East play on Jan. 3 against Georgetown


Related posts