Women’s basketball vs. Xavier: What you need to know

Caroline Strande scored 26 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in Butler’s previous matchup with Xavier. Photo courtesy of Butler Athletics

SAWYER GOLDWEIN | STAFF REPORTER | sgoldwein@butler.edu 

The women’s basketball team is playing with confidence as they ride a three-game winning streak into a home tilt with Xavier on Feb. 21. The Dawgs’ hot stretch is their longest in Big East play, and tied for their longest this season. 

Butler’s recent success has proved they can hang with solid competition. The Bulldogs beat St. John’s and Villanova — who rank fourth and third in the Big East, respectively — during the streak. Xavier doesn’t present quite the same caliber threat, but the Bulldogs can use them as a prime opportunity for a fourth-straight win. 

Here’s what you need to know before Butler takes on Xavier. 

Who: Butler vs. Xavier
When: Feb. 21, 6:30 p.m. 

Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse 

How to watch: FS2 

Youth movement 

Even in a rocky season, head coach Austin Parkinson’s unit has shown encouraging flashes of the team they could become in the future. One reason for optimism regarding the future is the youth in the Bulldogs’ starting lineup. 

None of Butler’s first-year trio cracked their way into the starting unit to open the season, but all three have now worked their way into what has arguably been the most successful starting lineup Parkinson has used. 

Forward Cristen Carter has started the most games, getting the nod in each of the past nine matchups. Carter plays like an old-school center on both ends, focusing on grabbing rebounds and blocking shots. She has pulled down four boards per game and recorded three multi-block outings since joining the starting lineup. 

Wing Riley Makalusky has started the past seven games for the Dawgs, averaging 8.6 points and four rebounds per start. Butler is 4-3 when the Fishers, Indiana native gets the start. 

Guard Karsyn Norman is the Dawgs’ final first-year. She got two starts at point guard in mid-January before relinquishing the spot to junior Ari Wiggins. Norman was re-inserted into the first-team on Feb. 9 for Butler’s streak-sparking win over St. John’s, and has started every game of the Dawgs’ resurgent run. 

Of course, the youngsters are joined in the starting lineup by Butler’s two most experienced players — senior guard Caroline Strande and graduate wing Rachel Kent — who also happen to be their leading scorers. Still, finding success with so much inexperience on the court for the opening tip is a rarity, especially in a power conference. That bodes well for the future of the Bulldogs, as well as the rest of the season, beginning with Butler hosting Xavier. 

Scouting the Musketeers 

Some say you never want to face a desperate opponent. When that opponent is Xavier, however, that sentiment might not ring true. The Musketeers are probably desperate, but their 1-22 record shouldn’t strike much fear in the hearts of the Bulldogs. That mark includes going  0-14 in conference play and 0-11 on the road. 

Xavier is led by senior guard Mackayla Scarlett, who scores 14.2 points per game. Redshirt first-year Aizhanique Mayo is a weapon off the bench for the Musketeers, notching 10.2 points per contest. 

Xavier doesn’t excel in any particular areas, so Butler should be able to play their own game, jump out ahead early and cruise from there. 


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