Thursday, January 23, 2003
VALPARAISO (9-7, 2-1 Mid-Con) at OAKLAND (4-11, 0-3 Mid-Con)

WHEN: Saturday, January 25, 2003, 2:30 p.m. CST.

WHERE: Athletics Center 'O'rena (4,005), Rochester, Mich.

RADIO: WVUR (95.1-FM), Valparaiso. Phil Morris will provide the play-by-play, with Mark Couser adding the color commentary.

TV: None.

THE COACHES: Valparaiso is led by Keith Freeman, who is in his 15th season of coaching, and 9th with the Crusaders. He is 275-147 overall and 146-100 with Valpo. Oakland is led by Eileen Shea-Hilliard, who is 4-11 in her 1st season overall and with the Golden Grizzlies.

SERIES RECORD: Oakland leads the overall series with the Crusaders 7-4. The Golden Grizzlies won the last meeting.

LAST SEASON: Oakland won two out of three meetings with Valpo last year. The Golden Grizzlies stopped a pair of Valpo 10-game win streaks last season, the first with a 70-56 win in Rochester. Marlous Nieuwveen led Valpo with 11 points. In the rematch at the ARC, Nieuwveen scored 16 as the Crusaders closed out the regular season with a 73-58 victory. The two schools met again in the Mid-Con Tournament championship game with Oakland again stopping Valpo's win streak with a 52-40 win. Nieuwveen led the Brown and Gold with ten points.

The Valparaiso Crusaders take their two game winning streak on the road Saturday afternoon to face Oakland in a rematch of the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament championship game last season. Valpo is coming off of a 89-53 victory over Southern Utah on Monday night.

BAUGHER NAMED MID-CON PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Meredith Baugher was named the Mid-Con Player of the Week after averaging 14.5 points and 10.0 rebounds last week. The sophomore recorded her first collegiate double-double against Chicago State with career highs in scoring (18) and rebounding (12). She added 11 points and eight boards in just 13 minutes against Southern Utah.

DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE: Valpo's defense has turned up the pressure on its opponents over the last six weeks. The Crusaders have played nine straight games in which they have not allowed opponents to reach the 60 point mark, and have allowed an average of just 50.3 points per game during the span beginning December 13 against DePaul.

KNOCKING THEM DOWN: Jamie Gutowski maybe a freshman, but she is anything but a rookie at the free throw line. She ranks second in the conference from the charity stripe, making 84.8% of her tosses on the season. She leads Valpo in trips to the line and makes, converting on 39-of-46 attempts from the stripe.

A BUNCH OF THIEVES: Ten different Crusaders registered steals on Monday against the Thunderbirds as Valpo tallied 21 for the contest. Kathryn Knoester led the way tying her career high with five thefts.

TAKEAWAYS HELP VALPO: Valpo forced 34 turnovers against Southern Utah, leading to 38 Crusader points. The Crusaders are +5.4 in turnover margin on the season, forcing 21.5 per contest while coughing it up just 16.1 times per night.

CAREER NIGHTS: Reserves Dawn Vander Meer and Heather Furr each tallied career highs in scoring against Southern Utah. Vander Meer scored seven points for the Brown and Gold, while Furr came off of the bench and tallied four.

OAKLAND NOTES: Oakland enters the contest having dropped seven of their last eight games and four straight. The Golden Grizzlies are coming off a 69-63 loss at UMKC on Monday and are playing their conference home opener against Valpo.

Katie Wolfe, the Mid-Continent Conference leading scoring, paces the Oakland offense. The senior is tallying 20.7 points per outing, shooting 45% from the floor and 43% from three-point range. She is averaging 78% from the line.

Freshman Jayme Wilson is fifth in the conference in scoring averaging 13.3 points per night. She has tallied a pair of 20-point efforts already this season.

Oakland sports the league's top rebounder in Amanda Batcha. The sophomore is bringing down 10.5 boards per night and has had eight double-figure rebounding games.

The Golden Grizzlies lead the Mid-Con in three-point shooting as a team, connecting on 37.7% of their attempts on the year.

DOWN THE ROAD: The Crusaders will conclude their brief two-game road trip on Monday evening when the Brown and Gold travel to Indianapolis for a 6 p.m. CST contest at IUPUI. Valpo will then return to the ARC on February 1 to begin a two-game homestand. The Crusaders will host UMKC in a 2:05 p.m. match-up before entertaining Oral Roberts on February 3 at 7:05 p.m.