Game #13: January 8, 2009, 6 p.m. CST
Valparaiso (6-6, 1-1 Horizon)
at Wright State (5-8, 1-1 Horizon)
Ervin J. Nutter Center (11,019) - Dayton, Ohio
Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: For the first time during the Horizon League season the Valparaiso Crusaders will take to the road on Thursday evening as the Brown and Gold travel to Dayton, Ohio to battle the Raiders of Wright State to begin a two-game road trip. Valpo is looking to rebound from a 13-point loss on Monday evening at the hands of Cleveland State.
On the Air: Thursday’s game against Wright State will be carried live on the Horizon League Network at horizonleaguenetwork.tv or through the link at valpoathletics.com. In addition, the game can be heard live on sportsjuice.com. WVUR’s Danny Robertson and Deon Robinson will carry all the action live from the Ervin J. Nutter Center.
Series Notes: Valparaiso leads the all-time series against Wright State 8-3, but the Raiders won both meetings between the two schools last season. The Crusaders are 3-2 all-time against Wright State in Dayton, but fell 52-51 to the Raiders last January 24. Wright State also won the second meeting of the year at the ARC, 75-64, on February 23. Valpo’s last win in the series came on March 3, 1994.
Wrapping Up Cleveland State: Valpo shot just 27% from the floor while the Vikings connected on more than 58% of their shots, including nearly 66% in the first half, as Cleveland State defeated the Crusaders 68-55 at the ARC on Monday night. Valpo forced 27 Viking turnovers, but made just 24% of its shot attempts from the floor in the second half, and could not cut an 18-point deficit any closer than nine in the final 20 minutes. Betsy Adams and Whitney Farris led Valpo with 14 points while Jessica Roque had a game-high 17 for Cleveland State. Thirty-one of Valpo’s 55 points came from the bench.
Scouting Wright State: The Raiders have won two of their last three games following a 72-55 victory at Loyola (Chicago) on Monday evening for Wright State’s first Horizon League victory of the season. LaShawna Thomas leads Wright State averaging 13.1 points per game. Shey Peddy, a Preseason First Team All-League selection, adds 11.7 points per night while leading the league in steals with 3.1 per game. As a team, Wright State leads the conference in offensive rebounding, averaging 14.5 boards per night. The Raiders are shooting 41% from the floor, but just 29.7% from three-point range and 58.7% from the free throw line.
Freeman Looks for #250 at Valpo in Game #600 Overall: Head coach Keith Freeman’s next victory will be his 250th on the bench of the Crusaders. Valpo’s head man for 15 seasons, Freeman is 249-174 all-time at Valpo. He has recorded more than half of the program’s victories all-time, and has led the Brown and Gold to winning seasons in 12 of his first 14 years with the Crusaders. In addition, when he takes to the bench on Thursday evening at Wright State, he will be coaching in his 600th career game in 21 seasons overall. He has a career 378-221 record coaching women’s basketball.
Adams Finding Role: Freshman Betsy Adams may have found her role coming off of the bench for the Brown and Gold. Her last two games at home were solid ones, scoring 12 points against Youngstown State and following that up with a season-best 14 versus Cleveland State on Monday evening. The rookie was 10-of-19 shooting from the floor during the homestand and made five triples.
Farris Posts Back-to-Back Scoring Efforts: Whitney Farris tied for the team-lead in scoring on Saturday afternoon, scoring a season-high 14 points for the Crusaders. The junior was just two points shy of her career high set last season at Loyola (Chicago). Saturday against Youngstown State, Farris found double figures for the first time this season, pouring in 12 points against the Penguins.
A Complete 180 Degrees: After outrebounding just four opponents throughout the entire 2007-2008 season, the Crusaders are second in the Horizon League in rebounding margin this season at +3.5 per game. Valpo has been outrebounded just four times in 12 games thus far this season.
Giving It Up: Launa Hochstetler leads the Horizon League averaging 5.2 assists per game this season. The senior point guard is averaging 7.7 assists per contest over the last three games, including registering a career-high nine helpers against North Florida. She has recorded seven or more assists in four games and has at least four in all but three contests this year.
Hochstetler Solid at the Line: Launa Hochstetler is second in the conference shooting 89.3% (50-of-56) from the free throw line this season. For her career, the senior is an 85.2% shooter from the charity stripe.
Slow Starts Shooting the Ball: Valpo has had four straight slow starts shooting the ball from the floor. Against Youngstown State, the Crusaders made just two of its first 11 shot attempts while making just 1-of-6 to start against Cleveland State. In the Christmas City Classic against North Florida, Valpo started 1-of-11 while making just one of its first nine attempts against La Salle.
Getting Bench Production: Valpo’s bench has stepped up over the last two games for the Crusaders scoring more than 50% of the team’s points. The non-starters scored 49 points in the 86-43 win against Youngstown State last Saturday. Two days later, the subs registered 31 of Valpo’s 55 points against Cleveland State.
Varner for Three: Though she has not taken many three-point attempts this season, Ashley Varner has been effective when stepping out and trying the trifecta. The sophomore is shooting 60.0% (6-of-10) from beyond the arc this year. Five of the six threes have come in the last four games for Varner.
Defense Wins Games: Valpo is 5-0 this season when allowing opponents to score 60 points or less. The Crusaders are holding opponents to just 37.1% shooting from the floor, a mark which leads the Horizon League.
Three Among League’s Top-10 Scorers: Valparaiso boasts three of the Horizon League’s top-10 scorers. Agnieszka Kulaga is fifth in the conference scoring 13.2 points per night while Lauren Kenney ranks 9th pouring in 12.8 points per game. Aimee Litka is 10th, adding 12.4 points per contest for Valpo, which as a team is averaging 67.1 points per game, most in the Horizon League.
Kulaga Nearing Top-20 All-Time at Valpo in Scoring: Agnieszka Kulaga has the opportunity to move into the top-20 all-time at Valpo in scoring within the next couple of games. The senior guard has scored 795 career points (8.8 per game), and needs just 35 more to match Jill Otto’s (1985-1989) 20th place mark of 830 points.
First Win Ever Against a Ranked Foe: The victory against Purdue was the first ever for a Crusader squad against a team ranked in the top-25. Valpo has played three top-25 programs this season, going 1-2 in those games.
Freeman Earns Milestone Win: Head coach Keith Freeman’s victory against Florida State was the 375th of his career coaching women’s basketball. In his 21st season overall, his next milestone on tap is 250 victories at Valpo. He needs just one more win to reach the Valpo mark, where he has been coaching the last 15 years.
Kenney Sets School Record for Free Throws: Lauren Kenney’s 13-for-13 free throw performance against Florida State in the championship is the best single game performance in school history. The junior bettered Lisa Diefenthaler’s 1994 mark of 12-for-12 set against Western Illinois. Debbie Bolen made all 11 of her tosses in 1991 while three others have gone 10-for-10 in a game.
More Solid Free Throw Shooting: As a team, Valpo went 35-of-42 from the line against Florida State, with the 35 makes ranking second all-time in school history. The 42 attempts were tied for fifth most ever in a game, while Lauren Kenney’s 13 makes in the game tie for fifth on the individual charts.
Hochstetler Among Top-10 Career Assist Leaders: Launa Hochstetler continues to climb Valpo’s career assist list. She had six assists against Cleveland State, and moved into a tie with Lauren Bechtold (2002-2006) for sixth place all-time with 287 helpers for the Crusaders.
Kulaga Nearing Top-15 in Assists: Agnieszka Kulaga had one assist against Cleveland State and now has 217 career assists to rank 16th all-time wearing the Brown and Gold. Next up on the assist charts for Kulaga is Stephanie Greer (1987-1991), who is 15th with 224 career helpers, seven more than the senior.
Litka Among Top-10 All-Time in Triples: Aimee Litka made two more three-pointers against Cleveland State to solidify her spot in eighth place in school history with 137 career threes. The senior is three triples shy of Heidi Diefenthaler’s (1992-1996) seventh place total of 140 treys while wearing the Brown and Gold.
Smart Students as Well: Valpo has had two players named U.S. Army Scholar-Athletes of the Week by the Horizon League thus far this year. Agnieszka Kulaga earned the honor on December 19 while Launa Hochstetler captured the accolade one week later on December 26.
Kulaga Earns Two Honors: Agnieszka Kulaga was named the Horizon League’s Player of the Week as well as the Most Valuable Player at the Coors Rocky Mountain Invitational for her stellar play from November 25-29. The senior guard averaged 22 points per game and shot 58.3% for the week in three games while garnering her fourth career conference honor. She scored 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor in the first game of the tournament against Colorado State, then added 22 points, including an 11-of-12 performance from the free throw line, in the championship against Florida State.
Litka Also Named to All-Tournament Team: Aimee Litka also was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Coors Rocky Mountain Invitational. She averaged 17 points and five rebounds per game in the event, including a 20-point effort in the championship against Florida State.
Valpo Captures Division I Tournament Title For First Time: Valpo’s win at the Coors Rocky Mountain Invitational was the first tournament title for the Brown and Gold in the Division I era. The last time the Crusaders captured a tourney title was at the Lady Redmen Classic hosted by Carthage in the 1985-1986 season as Valpo downed Lakeland, Carthage, and Clarke.
Kenney Named to Christmas City Classic All-Tournament Team: Lauren Kenney was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Christmas City Classic after averaging 14.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Kenney had 22 points and 14 boards in the opener against La Salle.
Kulaga Earns Preseason Honors: Agnieszka Kulaga was named to the Preseason All-Horizon League Second Team after averaging 14.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game last year for the Crusaders. She had a triple-double last season and earned Second Team All-League honors as a junior.
Valpo Tabbed Sixth in Horizon League: The Crusaders were picked to finish in sixth place this season in the Horizon League according to the conference’s preseason poll. Last year the Crusaders finished 14-16 overall and 9-9 in their inaugural league campaign to finish sixth. Green Bay was selected to win the Horizon League title for the 11th consecutive season.
Valpo Adds Two for Next Year’s Class: Head coach Keith Freeman has signed two players to National Letters of Intent for the 2009-2010 season. Skyler Gick is a 5’7” guard from Otterbein, Ind. who averaged 15.1 points per game as a junior at Benton Central High School. Laura Richards is a 5’9” guard from Connersville, Ind and averaged 16.0 points an 5.2 rebounds per game a year ago at Connersville High School.