Game #13: January 10, 2008, 7 p.m. CST
Valpo (6-6, 1-0 Horizon)
at UIC (4-9, 0-2 Horizon)
UIC Pavilion (8,000) - Chicago, Ill.
Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: Winners of three in a row, Valparaiso will venture to Chicago, Ill. on Thursday evening looking for its first road victory of the season as the Crusaders battle the Flames of UIC. Valpo is coming off of a 77-69 victory over Butler on Saturday afternoon in its inaugural Horizon League contest and has won six of its last seven games overall to move to the .500 mark.
On the Air: Thursday’s game against UIC will be carried live online at www.sportsjuice.com. WVUR’s (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) Josh Weinhold and Adam Tein will call all the action live from the UIC Pavillion. All 29 regular season games will be broadcast live over the internet in addition to many games on the radio. In addition, the game can be viewed live online as part of the Horizon League Network at www.horizonleaguenetwork.tv.
Series Notes: Valparaiso and UIC are meeting for the 27th time in a series that dates back to December 4, 1980. The Crusaders hold a 15-11 all-time series advantage and have won four straight meetings between the two schools. Valpo has not faced the Flames since December 16, 2000 though, a 58-56 victory for the Crusaders at the ARC. UIC holds a 7-5 advantage all-time in Chicago, Ill. but Valpo has defeated the Flames in two straight on UIC’s home floor.
Wrapping Up Butler: Agnieszka Kulaga scored a career-high 29 points while adding six rebounds, six steals, and four assists as Valparaiso opened its inaugural Horizon League campaign with a 77-69 victory over the Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon at the ARC. Valpo jumped out to a 10-point lead, 37-27, at halftime, and withstood a Butler run that closed the lead to two with about six minutes left in the game. Sarah Ott added 14 points while Whitney Farris and Aimee Litka added 11 and 10 points respectively for the Brown and Gold.
Scouting UIC: The Flames dropped their first two Horizon League contests and have fallen in seven of their last eight games following a 66-58 loss at Cleveland State on Saturday. UIC is a perfect 4-0 at home this year, though, including a win over Northwestern. Jessica Miller leads the Flames averaging 12.5 points per game. Briana Hinkle adds 11.4 points per night, including 19 on Saturday against the Vikings. Nikki Grobbecker is the team’s leading rebounder at 6.6 per game.
Kulaga Earns Horizon League Player of the Week Accolades for Second Time: For the second time this season, Agnieszka Kulaga has been named the Horizon League’s Player of the Week. The junior guard poured in a career-high 29 points while adding six steals, six rebounds, and four steals in Saturday’s victory over Butler.
Home Court Win Streak Among Nation’s Best: Valparaiso’s 11-game winning streak at the Athletics-Recreation Center is the ninth longest streak in Division I. Valpo is 5-0 this season and won its final six home contests last year. The last Crusader loss at the ARC came on January 15, 2007, a 63-57 setback against Oakland. Texas A&M currently holds the nation’s longest home court winning streak, having won 26 consecutive games in College Station, Texas.
Free Throw Shooting Continues to Shine for Crusaders...: Valpo made 25-of-27 free throw attempts on Saturday afternoon against Butler, with the 92.6% shooting ranking as the seventh best night from the charity stripe in school history. Valpo is shooting 78.1% from the line overall this season, the 10th best mark in the country.
... as Does Three-Point Shooting: Valpo is currently ranked ninth in NCAA Division I shooting 39.6% from beyond the arc. The Crusaders also are 16th in the nation making 7.3 triples per game. Five different players are currently ranked in the Horizon League’s top-12 in three-point shooting percentage individually.
Tough Non-Conference Schedule Helps RPI: Valpo’s schedule currently ranks as the 49th toughest in the country this season among all 339 Division I programs through the Crusaders’ non-conference play according to collegerpi.com. Valpo’s RPI has moved up to 117 as well through games of January 7. The Crusaders have already played seven top-100 programs, including victories against South Dakota State and Butler.
Making Free Throws in Crunch Time: With the game on the line in the closing minutes, Valparaiso has been solid from the free throw stripe this season. Valpo is shooting 89.4% (42-of-47) as a team from the charity stripe in the game’s final two minutes. Agnieszka Kulaga has been virtually automatic in pressure situations, connecting on 21-of-22 tosses (95.5%) with the clock winding down.
Kulaga Among Nation’s Top Shooters: Agnieszka Kulaga currently ranks among the nation’s top field goal and free throw shooters in Division I. The junior guard’s 52.3% shooting from the floor is 56th best in the country while her 86.0% shooting from the line ranks 39th.
Ott Doesn’t Miss Against Butler: Sarah Ott made every shot she attempted on her way to tying a season-high with 14 points against Butler. Ott was a perfect 4-of-4 from the floor, including two from beyond the arc. She also made all four free throw attempts on the afternoon.
Home Sweet Home: Valpo has had constant success at the ARC over the past seven years. With wins in the first five home games of 2007-2008, the Crusaders have pushed their home court winning streak to 11 consecutive games. Valpo has not dropped a home game since January 15, 2007 against Oakland. Since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Valpo has posted a 67-16 (.807) record at the ARC.
Kulaga Earns Valpo’s First Player of the Week Honor: Agnieszka Kulaga was named Valpo’s first-ever Horizon League Player of the Week on December 10 after turning in a then career-best 26 points against North Texas in a Crusader victory.
Hochstetler Named Scholar-Athlete of the Week: Leah Hochstetler was the U.S. Army Horizon League Scholar-Athlete of the Week on December 18 after lifting the Crusaders to victory against South Dakota State. The junior guard scored all five of her points in the final minute, including the game-winning three-pointer. In the classroom, Hochstetler has a 3.87 grade point average as a nursing major.
Crusaders in the Hoosier Classic: With the win against Ball State, Valparaiso has now posted a 6-2 record all-time in the Hoosier Classic, tying Indiana State for the best mark among the four schools that have competed in the annual event over the past eight years. With Valpo and Butler now members of the Horizon League together, the 2007 edition was the final chapter in this Indiana event.
A Three-rific Performance against Purdue: The Crusaders made their first five triples at Purdue on the way to making 11-of-17 (64.7%) three-pointers on the night. It was the fourth best shooting percentage for the team in a single game in school history (minimum 10 attempts).
Valpo Picked Fifth in Horizon League Race: Valparaiso has been tabbed to finish in fifth place in the Horizon League in its inaugural season according to the preseason poll conducted of the league’s head coaches, sports information directors, and selected media outlets. Milwaukee was picked to win the league followed by nine-time defending regular season champion Green Bay.
Valpo Adds Two for Next Year’s Class: Head coach Keith Freeman has signed two players to National Letters of Intent. Lauren Kenney is a 6’0” forward from Moorsville, Ind. who is currently playing at Lincoln Trail College. Sylwia Zabielewicz is a 6’6” center from Warsaw, Poland who is currently playing at Midland College. Both players will have two years of eligibility remaining.