Game #29: March 8, 2008, 11 a.m. CST
Valpo (14-14, 9-8 Horizon)
at Butler (19-9, 9-8 Horizon)
Hinkle Fieldhouse (10,000) - Indianapolis, Ind.
Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: Valparaiso wraps up the 2007-2008 regular season on Saturday with a key Horizon League tilt in Indianapolis, Ind. against instate rival Butler. The Crusaders and Bulldogs are tied for fifth place in the league standings. A Valpo victory along with a little help in other league action could enable the Crusaders to steal the final home game of the Horizon League Tournament quarterfinals to begin next week.
On the Air: Saturday’s game against Butler will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. Josh Weinhold and Nick Kovatch will call all the action live from historic Hinkle Fieldhouse. All 29 regular season games as well as the Horizon League Tournament 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 Butler are meeting for the 19th time in a series that dates back to February 11, 1980, a 76-53 Bulldog victory. Butler holds a 14-4 all-time advantage in the series, but the Crusaders have won the last three meetings between the two schools, including a 77-69 Valpo victory at the ARC on January 5 of this season. Agnieszka Kulaga scored 29 points for the Crusaders in the victory while Lade Akande led Butler with 16. Butler holds a 6-1 series advantage at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Wrapping Up Youngstown State: The Crusaders held the Penguins without a field goal for the final 6:47 and used a late 10-0 run to propel Valpo to a 70-59 victory over Youngstown State in Youngstown, Ohio on Saturday. Agnieszka Kulaga led Valpo with 14 points while Launa Hochstetler added 13 for the Brown and Gold.
Scouting Butler: The Bulldogs have won three straight games following a 77-55 victory at Cleveland State last Saturday. Butler is seeking its 20th victory of the season and is 8-5 at home this year. Lade Akande leads the Bulldogs averaging 16.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Susan Lester, the reigning Horizon League Player of the Week, adds 13.1 points and a team-high 7.2 boards per night. Butler’s defense ranks second in the Horizon League allowing just 61.5 points per game.
Valpo Looks to Secure .500 Season for 17th Time in 18 Years: With a victory over Butler on Saturday afternoon, the Crusaders would assure themselves of a .500 season in 2007-2008. Valpo has finished at least at the .500 mark 16 times in the last 17 seasons, including six in a row. The only time during the stretch Valpo did not reach the .500 mark was 2000-2001, when Valpo went 7-22.
Matching Sisters: Launa Hochstetler was named the U.S. Army Horizon League Scholar-Athlete of the Week for her performance last weekend. The junior guard earned the same honor her sister Leah received back on December 18. Both sisters have matched each other earlier this season on the court as well, as Launa hit a game-winning shot against Green Bay and Leah hit a winner against South Dakota State.
Shooting Percentage a Telling Tale for Crusaders: Valparaiso is 13-2 this season when shooting better from the floor than its opponents. However, when the Crusaders are outshot by their opponents, they are 1-12.
Always a First Time for Everything: Valpo’s come-from-behind victory at Youngstown State marked the first time the Crusaders have rallied from a halftime deficit to earn a victory this season. Valpo was down 37-34 at the break before outscoring the Penguins 36-22 in the second stanza.
Ott Swats Them Away: Sarah Ott had not recorded a blocked shot during the first 26 games of the season prior to last weekend. Last Thursday evening at Cleveland State, Ott swatted away four Viking shots, then added another block on Saturday at Youngstown State.
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 61 this year. She needs four more treys to match Suzie Hammel’s 2001-2002 mark of 65 for seventh place.
Valpo Finally Gets to the Boards: After outrebounding just two opponents in the first 26 games of the season, the Crusaders had an advantage on the glass against both Cleveland State and Youngstown State. Against the Penguins on Saturday, Whitney Farris had a career-high 10 boards.
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 22nd in NCAA Division I shooting 75.9% from the charity stripe. Individually, Valpo has three of the top six free throw shooters in the Horizon League. Agnieszka Kulaga is third shooting 84.1% from the stripe while Aimee Litka is fifth at 84.0%. Launa Hochstetler has the sixth best percentage in the conference, connecting at a 82.9% rate.
Hochstetler Tallies Double Figures: Launa Hochstetler has scored in double figures in eight of her last 10 games. The junior point guard is averaging 12.0 points per night over the span. Hochstetler scored a season-high 20 points against Green Bay earlier this season, and ranks 23rd in the Horizon League averaging 10.3 points per contest on the season.
Helping Hands: Valparaiso had a season-high 23 assists at Youngstown State. Launa Hochstetler was one off of her career-high with eight assists while Aimee Litka tied her career best with five helpers. Kelly Peller had a career-high four assists in the victory as well.
Controlling the Paint: Valpo held a 40-6 advantage scoring in the paint in the victory against Youngstown State.
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.
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.
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.