Indianapolis, IN -- It takes time to solve the physics behind the 3-point shot.
According to research, shooting from over 20 feet with an arc between 33 and 45 degrees, a speed of just under 20 miles per hour, and two revolutions per second of spin, the player has the ingredients of the perfect 3-point shot.
Yet, the teams in the March Madness tournament made it seem as if it were basic, elementary science experiment. It looked that easy for Washington's Talia Walton who shot 8-9 from the plus 20-foot line.
Although, for Brianna Butler, it's taken some time getting used to.
For their first appearance in the Final Four, the Syracuse Orange, it took a ton of threes and a team effort to defeat the Washington Huskies in the Women's Final Four, 80-59.
With nine contributing teammates to complete the win, it was Brianna Butler who surprised even herself when told she outscored the record for the NCAA single-season standings for 3-pointers made. Ohio State star Kelsey Mitchell had 127 last season. The 5'10'' Butler completed 128.
"I actually didn't know, but it's a great honor," said Butler. "It's definitely a blessing, and it just shows how much hard work I've put in."
Coach Hillsman found it fitting for his hard working guard to break the record. "She's a kid that has a lot of responsibility for us to shot the ball. And just amazing to see her break that record because she deserves it, because she's a kid who is very much team-oriented kid and she wants to pass the ball. She wants to make the right plays."
The humble guard was pressured as a freshman to shoot more; however, she fretted missing shots. She never wanted to be a ball hog. Head Coach Quentin Hillsman changed her mentality after she attempted 249 shots as a freshman, wanting her to sit the bench if she wasn't trying more. Therefore, Butler tallied more than 1,637 career points, sitting in fourth place for the school's all-time scoring history. Ironically, more than 60 percent are completed from 3-point range.
Even in Sunday nights' game, Hillsman found himself getting on Butler to shoot the ball. "And last night she made a play on a steal ball short corner, Brea hit the shot, and I got on her. I said ‘shoot the ball.' She says, Coach, she was wide open, and she made the shot. I said I don't care. But I want her to shoot the ball. I want her to stay aggressive."
Sunday night, the devoted Butler scored 12 points, garnered 4 assists and pulled down 6 rebounds. All of her points were 3's. However, it was her 13 attempted 3-pointers that Hillsman can also appreciate.
With the smooth rhythm of her shot, Butler has helped the team advance to the Championship.
"It means everything," said Butler. "It is something you dream about when you are younger. It's an opportunity to play against a great team- UConn. It's just really exciting, and we are happy to be here."
As a star contributor, Syracuse's Alexis Peterson came with intensity as she led her team with a total 18 points, 6 assists, and two 3-pointers. In addition, Brittney Sykes scored 17 points with two 3's. The bench for the Orange scored a total of 23 points and went 3-8 behind the arc. Forward Taylor Ford knows her role as "The Energizer Bunny" on the bench, but in the game, she contributes well.
"When I go into the game, I know my job, and I usually hit a couple three's to pick up the team," said Ford. "When I'm not in the game, I am on the bench cheering because I'm just happy to be there."
Not to mention, overall the Orange outrebounded Washington 46-28, and had a 20-9 scoring advantage just off of turnovers. Currently, Syracuse is ranked first for 3-pointers made in the ACC (8.9). Tonight, they completed 42 percent of their baskets, and went 12-33 (36%) from the arc.
"...It's win or go home, and I don't think we really wanted to go home" said guard Cornelia Fondren. "We're competing hard, and that's our game plan."
Coach Hillsman isn't the only person on the sideline for Syracuse, who feeds off the energy. Fondren beamed with excitement addressing how Butler influences the Orange.
"Bri really gives us a lot of confidence when she's making shots -- it feels good,” said Fondren. “We thrive off that, anybody that's making shots really gives us a lot of energy. She's been playing really good. She's been working really hard. It just sparks us; it sparks coach Q whenever he gets going we get going when she's making shots.”
Tonight's game, with the first-time title game appearance for Syracuse and the fourth time in four years for UConn, will be a test for the forwards’ armor inside the paint, and a battle for everyone else beyond the arc.
And guess what might decide the game: the team who shoots the “3” the best.