Bulldogs’ midseason blues continue against Providence: Beyond the Box Score

Senior guard Caroline Strande tied her season high in points with 22 against Providence. Photo courtesy of Butler Athletics

SAWYER GOLDWEIN | SPORTS REPORTER | sgoldwein@butler.edu 

The Bulldogs’ Big East struggles continued on Jan. 21 when they suffered their sixth straight loss. 

The now 9-11 Providence Friars marched into Hinkle Fieldhouse and shot out to a 19 point lead at halftime. Their momentum was stunted by the Dawgs in the third quarter, partially due to a 13-4 start to the frame, but the Friars were able to keep Butler at arms length the rest of the way for a 63-53 victory

The Dawgs’ defeat was their seventh in conference play, leaving them winless against Big East competition.

Butler was led by senior guard Caroline Strande, who put up 22 points and eight rebounds while shooting 83.3% from beyond the arc. Graduate wing Rachel Kent added 13 points and eight rebounds. 

Junior forward Olivia Olsen paced Providence with 16 points and 13 rebounds. 

Points in the paint 

Olsen’s success inside sums up the disparity in paint points between the two teams. The Friars outscored the Bulldogs 32-12 in the paint.

This has been a fairly recurring issue for Butler throughout conference play. While the Dawgs’ roster looked strong early in the season, it has not been able to produce the physicality needed to compete in the Big East. 

As a result, head coach Austin Parkinson has experimented with a few different frontcourt players in the starting lineup, the latest of whom is first-year forward Cristen Carter, who notched her second start of the season against the Friars. Junior forward Sydney Jaynes —- the incumbent at the position —-  has the bulk of the starts, with 16. Sophomore forward Lilly Stoddard has one. 

Carter has looked solid throughout the season, particularly on the glass. She lacks experience, but her gritty style of play is something Butler generally needs and will be a major asset as her career advances. 

Checking in 

Parkinson was hired as Butler’s head coach after the Bulldogs’ 1-27 season in 2021-22. The former IUPUI bench boss quickly proved his worth, lifting Butler to a much improved 11-19 record in his debut season.

This season, the influx of transfers and impact first years who joined a few key returners were expected to lead the Bulldogs to another improved season. 

After a 6-2 start, including a road Big Ten win at Wisconsin, things were looking promising for Butler, but the Big East has been a much tougher challenge. The Dawgs are 0-7 in conference play, and six of those losses have been by double digits. 

All of a sudden, Butler improving on — or even reaching — their 2022-23 record does not even look close to a sure thing. 

The Bulldogs need four more wins to pass last season’s overall mark, and seven if they want to improve their conference record. 

They have 11 regular season games remaining to accomplish this. Two matchups with 1-15 Xavier should at least get the Dawgs in the win column, but the rest of the schedule is much tougher. Excluding the Xavier games, Butler plays just four more times at Hinkle. Among their other five road games, they’ll face ranked opponents twice: No. 21 Creighton and No. 22 Marquette. 

To be certain, nobody is expecting Butler to suddenly become an NCAA tournament team, but stacking up a few wins down the stretch would go a long way towards building some confidence that this team can compete next season. 


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