Game #20: February 2, 2008, 1:35 p.m. CST
Cleveland State (12-7, 6-2 Horizon)
at Valpo (9-10, 4-4 Horizon)
Athletic-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: Valparaiso continues its four-game homestand on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders host Cleveland State at the ARC. The Crusaders are looking to rebound from a 92-79 defeat against Youngstown State on Thursday night, and Saturday’s game will mark the halfway mark in Horizon League play.
On the Air: Saturday’s game against Cleveland State will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. Eric Brooks and Matt Engelbrecht will call all the action live from the ARC. 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 Cleveland State are meeting for the 13th time overall, but for the first time in 13 years. The Crusaders hold a 10-2 series edge and have won the last six straight, including an 84-75 win in Cleveland on February 24, 1994, the last meeting between the two schools. Valpo is 4-2 at home against the Vikings in the match-up of two former North Star/Mid-Continent Conference members.
Wrapping Up Youngstown State: Aimee Litka recorded her first career double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, but it was not enough as the Penguins defeated Valpo 92-79 on Thursday evening at the ARC. The Crusaders held a nine-point lead with 16 minutes to play, but runs of 15-1 and 8-0 by Youngstown State keyed the comeback. The Penguins hit 14 three-pointers in the game, nine more than their season average. Agnieszka Kulaga scored a team-high 19 points for the Crusaders while Launa Hochstetler had 13 points and nine assists.
Scouting Cleveland State: The Vikings have won four straight games and nine of their last 11 overall to move into a second place tie in the Horizon League standings following a 65-61 victory at Butler on Thursday night. Kailey Klein, who paces the Cleveland State offense averaging 18.2 points per game, ranks second in the Horizon League in scoring. Dominique Butler adds 9.6 points per contest along with a team-leading 6.2 rebounds per game. In conference action she has bumped her scoring average up to 11.1 points per outing. The Vikings are the league’s top free throw shooting team, making 78.8% from the stripe.
Litka Gets First Double-Double: After two near misses this season, Aimee Litka finally recorded her first career double-double. The junior scored 17 points and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds against Youngstown State, including 11 second half boards. Earlier this year Litka had a pair of nine rebound efforts, both occurring on nights she scored 25 or more points.
Hochstetler Dishes the Ball: Launa Hochstetler recorded a career-high nine assists for the Crusaders on Thursday against Youngstown State. The junior point guard had just one turnover, and moved into fifth place among Horizon League leaders with a 1.60 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Super Woman: Aimee Litka played her third complete game of the season on Thursday, logging all 40 minutes of action. Earlier this year she played all 45 minutes in an overtime contest against Green Bay, and also never had a breather against Ball State. She has played 37 or more minutes 10 times this season.
Valpo Has Two of the League’s Top Scorers: The Crusaders have two of the top six scorers in the Horizon League. Agnieszka Kulaga is fourth in the conference averaging 15.5 points per game while Aimee Litka ranks sixth tallying 14.7 points per night. Litka is tied for second among league members against conference foes only, tallying 17.4 points per game.
Constant Starters: Launa Hochstetler, Agnieszka Kulaga, Aimee Litka, and Sarah Ott have started all 19 games for the Brown and Gold this season. Kulaga has started 35 straight games dating back to last season while Ott has a 22-game streak going.
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.
Sisterly Heroics: With Launa Hochstetler’s game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer of overtime against Green Bay, she matched the accomplished of her sister Leah from earlier this season. Leah hit her game-winning triple with 48 seconds remaining against South Dakota State.
From Long Range: The 36 three-point attempts Valpo took against Detroit were the second most taken by the Crusaders ever in a game. The school record for attempts is 41 against Wright State back in 1992. Aimee Litka’s seven triples made in the same game tie her for fourth on the Crusaders’ single game list for makes in a contest individually.
Free Throw Shooting Among Nation’s Best: Valpo is currently ranked 11th in NCAA Division I shooting 77.1% from the charity stripe. Individually, Agnieszka Kulaga is 18th in the country from the line, connecting on 87.0% of her tries.
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 86.9% (53-of-61) 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 24-of-25 tosses (96.0%) 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 6-2 at home and since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Valpo has posted a 68-18 (.791) 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.