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Monday, April 22, 2024

Recorder Rewind: Providence at Butler

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Sunday afternoon is quickly becoming synonymous with women’s college basketball.  The sport is getting a lot of national television time with the growing popularity of the women’s game. Caitlin Clark and the #2 Iowa Hawkeyes enjoyed a noon tip at #18 Ohio State on NBC on a day much of America spends in church.  If you picked up your remote and flipped to FS1 on Sunday, you would find Austin Parkinson’s Butler Bulldog women’s team hosting Big East Conference foe Providence at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Both teams came into the game badly needing a win.  First year Providence Head Coach Erin Batth’s squad traveled to Indianapolis having dropped four in a row while Parkinson’s crew had come up on the losing end in their last five contests.

Both teams got off to a slow start in this one, as the action went back and forth over the first two minutes of the contest. IUPUI transfer Rachel Kent ripped the lid off the bucket for the Dawgs a little over two minutes into the 1st quarter with a three from the top of the key.  Kent would connect on a second triple at the 6:28 mark in the opening period.  The Butler offense was otherwise sloppy. As the buzzer sounded to close out the opening ten minutes the home team had one less turnover than they did points. Providence 14-8 after one.

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Butler wing Caroline Strande (21) puts up a tough shot over a Providence defender during their matchup at Hinkle Fieldhouse on January 21, 2024 in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo/David Dixon)

Forty seconds into the second quarter Butler’s best offensive player, Senior Caroline Strande, hit a corner 3 to cut the Friars lead in half.  A sequence of plays early in the period would draw the ire of Butler Head Coach Austin Parkinson, bringing the Gene Keady scowl out of him while ultimately propelling Providence on a run that would take them into the half up big.  Bulldog Junior post Sydney Jaynes was called for a foul on Providence’s Olivia Olsen on what looked like good defensive position. On the next possession Butler’s Rachel Kent looked to be fouled on a baseline jumper. No call.  Parkinson was hot.  He gave the refs an earful until and through the next television timeout.  Butler was down ten with 6:34 left in the half.  But it would only get worse.  A turnover by Butler Freshman Karsyn Norman while trying to play for the last shot with under 5 seconds left before halftime led to a Friar layup at the buzzer. Providence Head Coach Erin Batth stepped down off the Hinkle floor on her way back to the locker room with a smile on her face as her team led 35-16 at intermission.

Not unlike the men’s team the Butler women are a program that relies heavily on transfers. Ari Wiggins and Strande would come up big in the third period. Wiggins, the runner up for 2021 Indiana Miss Basketball, was a standout at Heritage Christian here in Indianapolis before spending her first two years of college in Ann Arbor at Michigan while Caroline Strande played her freshman and sophomore year at the University of Minnesota.   The home team jumped on Providence out of the gate. Wiggins’ layup to start the quarter triggered an 18-6 run over the first 7 minutes of the period that would cut the visitors lead to seven.   Eleven of the 18 points were courtesy of Strande, while the ultra -quick Wiggins picked up Providence’s guards full court.  At the end of the 3rd quarter a nineteen-point halftime deficit was cut to 9.

Butler women's basketball point guard Ari Wiggins sighing an autograph for a young fan at Hinkle Fieldhouse. (Photo/David Dixon)
Butler women’s basketball point guard Ari Wiggins (3) signing an autograph for a young fan on January 21, 2024 at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis IN. (Photo/David Dixon)

A Strande jumper from deep cut the lead to six at the 6:02 mark of the 4th, the closest Butler had been since just under 7 minutes left in the 2nd quarter.  But Providence would answer with the next two buckets pushing their lead back to double digits. The Dawgs were forced to play the foul game down the stretch.  The Friars hit their foul shots and would win the game comfortably, 63-53.

After the game, Butler Head Coach Austin Parkinson said, “I was proud of the kids at halftime.  They regrouped and they had a good attitude. And really fought back. Got ourselves back in the game. That was a good game going into the 4th quarter.  But just, digging a hole so early puts a lot of pressure on us. Hopefully we can learn from the second half and the effort that was given.”

Caroline Strande led Butler with 22 points. Rachel Kent chipped in 13 for the home team.

The Bulldogs will try to get their first Big East win on Wednesday as they travel to Cincinnati to take on the Xavier Musketeers.


Austin Taylor is the Executive Director of The City League. Contact Austin at Austin@thecityleague.org. For more news similar to Providence at Butler women’s basketball, click here.

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