On December 30th, the Butler Bulldogs were at a crossroads. Four minutes remained in the game against Seton Hall. The Butler women’s basketball team faced another devastating loss. This would be the team’s ninth loss and the second in conference play. To make things worse, the loss would come against top-ranked and heated rival.
When the clock hit triple digits, the Bulldogs were defeated 70-65. Normally, this would be the moment when anger and frustration were expected to set in. This was the same Bulldog team that also lost six straight to start the season and now sported a 4-9 record.
However, the unexpected occurred.
An aura of confidence was displayed by the Bulldogs. After all, they only lost by five points to the then No.23 Pirates. As a fan, you could feel that the team was close to breaking out. It just needed to place the pieces to the puzzle. According to butlersports.com, head coach Kurt Godlevske alluded to this fact after the game.
“Offensively, at times I believe that we showed what we are capable of but we still have lapses,” Godleveske said. “They seem to come at crucial times and I recall a few possessions where we were still right there in it, but we came up empty.”
What Godlevske didn’t realize was that his team had just opened Pandora’s Box. As the rest of the world celebrated the New Year, the Bulldogs were preparing for the Providence Friars. Armed with new confidence, the Bulldogs dispatched of the Friars 66-61.
Two days later, they dominated the Creighton Blue Jays 63-58 behind a spectacular game from sophomore Loryn Goodwin and senior Ijeoma Uchendu. Goodwin had 26 points and 15 rebounds and Uchendu added 23 points and 13 rebounds as well.
The winning streak would be tested on the road against St. John’s but the Bulldogs pulled out the victory 55-50. The streak would then reach four, five and eventually eight games.
Exactly one month after being a dreadful 4-9 overall, the Bulldogs are sitting at (12-9, 8-2) in the Big East. In fact, they are only a half game out of first place.
So what is the reason for this massive turnaround?
This answer lies within the play of Goodwin and Uchendu. In the 10 conference games, Uchendu has averaged a double-double with 17.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Goodwin has been a huge complement to Uchendu as she is getting her teammates involved with four assists per game. She is also averaging 16.4 points per game as well during conference play.
The efforts of these players have caused the newfound confidence in the team. The team is no longer shutting down after a defensive lapse or offensive mistake. The team is battling through those mistakes and the result is more wins against quality teams. Their attention to detail has improved and they are sharply disciplined on the defensive end.
As a result, they are first in rebounding defense. This means that the team is swarming to the ball and not allowing their opponents second chance opportunities.
The increased defensive effort and offensive outbursts have fueled this eight game winning streak for the Butler women’s basketball team. The streak has been historic as it is thelongest streak in 17 years for Butler.
When the calendar turns to February, no one will forget Butler’s historic run. January will forever be a month of prosperity and triumph. Yesterday, the Bulldogs were a desolate and downtrodden team.
Today, it’s their confidence that is the elixir to their success.