Game #28: March 1, 2008, 3:30 p.m. CST
Valpo (13-14, 8-8 Horizon)
at Youngstown State (12-14, 7-8 Horizon)
Beeghly Center (6,400) - Youngstown, Ohio
Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: Valparaiso continues its swing through Ohio on Saturday with another pivotal game against Youngstown State in the race for seeding in the upcoming Horizon League Tournament. This is Valpo’s first trip to Youngstown, Ohio since February of 2001 when the two schools were both members of the Mid-Continent Conference.
On the Air: Saturday’s game against Youngstown State will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. Eric Brooks and Miles Janssen will call all the action live from the Beeghly Center. 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 Youngstown State are renewing their rivalry that dates back to the Mid-Continent conference. The Penguins hold a 13-9 edge all-time in a series that began on January 29, 1993 with a 107-99 victory by the Crusaders. Youngstown State holds a 7-2 advantage all-time at the Beeghly Center, and also won the earlier meeting between the two schools this year, 92-79, on January 31 at the ARC.
Wrapping Up Cleveland State: The Crusaders held the Vikings to just 26.5% shooting in the first half and just 2-of-21 from three-point range for the game as Valparaiso defeated Cleveland State 66-52 on Thursday evening in Cleveland, Ohio. Valpo jumped out to a seven-point halftime lead, and used a 10-2 run to start the second half to open up a double figure lead. Agnieszka Kulaga led the Crusaders with 16 points, six rebounds, and four assists while Aimee Litka added 14 points and four assists. Kailey Klein led the Vikings with 25 points and seven boards.
Scouting Youngstown State: The Penguins dropped their second straight home game on Thursday night with a 61-60 loss to Butler. Youngstown State is led by Heather Karner, who is averaging 13.3 points per game and is shooting 81.3% from the free throw line. Tiara Scott is adding 12.9 points per contest, and has increased her production to 15.3 points per night against Horizon League foes. Velissa Vaughn adds 13.0 points per contest against league opponents as well.
Time Change for Season Finale at Butler: Valparaiso’s season finale at Butler has been moved to 11 a.m. CST (12 p.m. Indianapolis time) on March 8. The move occurred because of the potential for Butler to host the Horizon League Men’s Championship that evening.
Valpo Bunched in Race for Seeding: The Crusaders enters its final two games of Horizon League play tied with Butler for fifth and sixth place in the conference standings. The two league foes will meet on March 8 to wrap up the regular season. The top six seeds earn a first round bye, while places seven and eight host first round games. Valpo is just one-half game ahead of Youngstown State, the Crusaders’ foe on Saturday, for the important seventh place slot.
Shooting Percentage a Telling Tale for Crusaders: Valparaiso is 12-2 this season when shooting better from the floor than its opponents. However, when the Crusaders are outshot by their opponents, they are 1-12.
Crusaders Guarded the Perimeter Against Cleveland State: Valpo held Cleveland State to just 9.5% shooting beyond the three-point arc on Thursday night as the Vikings made just 2-of-21 tries for the game. On the season, the Crusaders are allowing their opponents to connect on just 32.3% from long range.
Ott Swats Them Away: Sarah Ott had not recorded a blocked shot during the first 26 games of the season prior to Thursday night. Against Cleveland State, the redshirt-junior rejected four shots, a career high, and marked 50% of her previous career total.
Litka Moves into Eighth on Single Season Treys List: Aimee Litka has moved past Michelle Russell (1993-1994) for eighth place on Valpo’s single season three-point list with 60 this year. She needs five more treys to match Suzie Hammel’s 2001-2002 mark of 65 for seventh place.
Rebounding a Team Effort: When Valparaiso outrebounded Cleveland State on Thursday night, it was just the third time the Crusaders have grabbed more boards than their opponents. Six different Crusaders were heavily involved in the rebounding, grabbing at least four boards on the night. Launa Hochstetler led Valpo with seven rebounds as the Crusaders held the 38-34 edge.
Overtime Success: Valparaiso’s overtime win against Green Bay was the Crusaders’ fourth straight when playing extra sessions. The Crusaders have not dropped an overtime contest since November 21, 2005, a double-overtime affair against Bradley.
Free Throw Shooting Among Nation’s Best: Valpo is currently ranked 11th in NCAA Division I shooting 77.0% from the charity stripe. Individually, Aimee Litka is second in the Horizon League but is just shy from the minimum needed from the stripe to be ranked nationally. In addition, Agnieszka Kulaga is third in the conference and 30th in the nation making 84.8% at the line.
Kulaga Earns Three League Honors: Agnieszka Kulaga earned her third Horizon League Player of the Week honor on January 21 after averaging 17.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 7.0 assists in two games. Kulaga first earned the award on December 10 after turning in a then career-best 26 points against North Texas in a Crusader victory. She then earned the honor again on January 7 after pouring in a career-high 29 points while adding six steals, six rebounds, and four steals in a victory over 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 85.7% (72-of-84) 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 31-of-33 tosses (93.9%) with the clock winding down. She proved her ability in the clutch against Green Bay, sinking three free throws with 0.2 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime.
Home Sweet Home: Valpo has had constant success at the ARC over the past seven years. This season the Crusaders are 9-4 at home and since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Valpo has posted a 71-20 (.780) record at the ARC.
Hochstetler Named Scholar-Athlete of the Week: Leah Hochstetler was the Horizon League Scholar-Athlete of the Week on December 18. The junior scored all five of her points in the final minute, including the game-winning three-pointer against South Dakota State. In the classroom, Hochstetler has a 3.87 grade point average in nursing.
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.