Tuesday, March 11, 2003
#4 VALPARAISO (17-12, 8-6 Mid-Con) vs. #6 OAKLAND (13-15, 7-7 Mid-Con)

WHAT: Conoco Mid-Continent Conference Tournament Championship

WHEN: Tuesday, March 11, 2003, 5:00 p.m. CST.

WHERE: Kemper Arena (18,646), Kansas City, Mo.

RADIO: WVUR (95.1-FM), Valparaiso. Ed Schillinger will provide the play-by-play, with Steve Rhodes adding the color commentary.

TV: Fox Sports Net Chicago, Detroit, and Midwest. Ben Boyle will handle the play-by-play with Dave Kaplan providing color commentary.

THE COACHES: Valparaiso is led by Keith Freeman, who is in his 15th season of coaching, and 9th with the Crusaders. He is 283-152 overall and 154-105 with Valpo. Oakland is led by Eileen Shea-Hilliard, who is 13-15 in her 1st season overall and with the Golden Grizzlies.

SERIES RECORD: Oakland leads the overall series 8-5. The Crusaders won the last meeting.

SEASON MEETINGS: Oakland downed the Crusaders 53-46 at home back on Jan. 25. Jenna Stangler led Valpo with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Anne Hafeli led all scorers with 15 points for the Golden Grizzlies. The Crusaders won the rematch 77-54 back on Feb. 24 at the ARC on Valpo's Senior Night. Stangler led the Brown and Gold with 16 points while Jayme Wilson led Oakland with 16 of her own.

The Valparaiso Crusaders seek their first Mid-Continent Conference Tournament title and NCAA berth ever on Tuesday evening as the Brown and Gold battle Oakland for the championship. The Crusaders defeated Western Illinois 49-45 in the semifinals to reach their third championship game in four years.

TITLE GAME REMATCH: Valpo has made the championship game three previous times, including last season when the Brown and Gold fell to Oakland 52-40 in the title tilt. The Crusaders also reached the championship game in 1998 and 2000, but were defeated by Youngstown State on both occasions.

DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS: The Crusaders held Western Illinois to just 45 points in the semifinal win, marking the 19th time a team has failed to score 60 points on the Brown and Gold. It was also the sixth time Valpo has held a team under 50 points.

KNOCKING THEM DOWN: The Crusaders have been taking advantage of their free throws in the tournament. After entering postseason shooting just 71.2% from the stripe, the Brown and Gold have made 86% (43-of-50) of their tosses in the last two games.

GRAY NAMED FIRST TEAM ALL MID-CON: Senior Jeanette Gray was named to the Mid-Continent Conference First Team for her play this season. She ranks in the top-ten in the conference in scoring, rebounding, and steals. Gray was named to the Mid-Con Second Team last season and to the All-Newcomer Team as a freshman.

BAUGHER AND BOONE EARN HONORABLE MENTION HONORS: A pair of sophomores earned Mid-Continent Conference Honorable Mention honors when the postseason awards were released on Thursday. Meredith Baugher is third on the team in scoring, averaging 8.9 ppg, and is second in rebounding with 5.5 rpg. She came on during conference play scoring a team-leading 12.1 points per Mid-Con game and grabbing 6.6 boards per contest. Katie Boone, last year's Newcomer of the Year, also earned the Honorable Mention honor after ranking in the top six in the conference in both steals and assists, while ranking second in assist-to-turnover ratio.

OAKLAND NOTES: Oakland enters the Mid-Con title game having won four straight games. The Golden Grizzlies defeated UMKC 81-62 in the quarterfinals and Chicago State 60-52 in the semis to advance to the championship.

Katie Wolfe leads Oakland, and the Mid-Continent Conference, in scoring averaging 20.3 points per game. The senior also ranks fourth in assists with 3.37 dishes per contest. She also ranks sixth, making 78.6% of her free throws.

Jayme Wilson is third in the Mid-Con in scoring with 15.6 points per outing. The freshman is a 42.7% three-point shooter. Amanda Batcha tops the Mid-Con in rebounding with 9.9 boards per game.

As a team, Oakland is the top three-point shooting team in the Mid-Con at 37.9% and lead the conference with a 0.88 assist-to-turnover ratio.

CRUSADERS FINISH IN SECOND PLACE IN MID-CON: Valparaiso finished the 2002-2003 regular season in a second place tie in the Mid-Continent Conference standings. The finish is the second time the Crusaders have finished as a conference runner-up, in addition to two conference titles.

GRAY NAMED TO ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Jeanette Gray was named to the Spartan Chevrolet Classic All-Tournament Team after averaging 13.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game over games against Miami (Ohio) and Fresno State. The senior also registered five steals. Gray tallied 20 points in the consolation game victory over Fresno State.

CRUSADERS ADD THREE FOR 2003-2004: Valparaiso University women's basketball coach Keith Freeman has announced the addition of three players for the 2003-2004 season. Joining the Crusaders are guards Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian H.S.) and Carrie Myers (Duffield, Va./Lee H.S.) along with center Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.).

FREEMAN REACHES 150: Head coach Keith Freeman registered his 150th victory at the helm of the Brown and Gold on Feb. 22 against IUPUI. Freeman, in his 9th season with the Crusaders, began his Valpo career during the 1994-1995 season and has averaged over 17 wins per year over his first eight at Valpo.

GRAY JOINS 1,400/700 CLUB: Senior Jeanette Gray joined Sarah Stricklett as the only two Crusaders ever to score 1,400 points and grab 700 rebounds in their career. She has scored 1,437 points and brought down 747 rebounds in her four years wearing the Brown and Gold.

THE THREES CONTINUE: Entering today's game, Valpo has made at least one three-pointer in 118 consecutive contests. The last time the Crusaders failed to knock down a trey was Nov. 23, 1999 at Purdue.

BAUGHER NAMED MID-CON PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Meredith Baugher was named the Mid-Con Player of the Week on January 21 after averaging 14.5 points and 10.0 rebounds for the week. The sophomore recorded her first collegiate double-double against Chicago State 18 points and a career high 12 rebounds. She added 11 points and eight boards in just 13 minutes against Southern Utah.

HAMMEL EARNS MID-CON HONORS: Suzie Hammel was named the Mid-Con Player of the Week on Feb. 4 after averaging 20.5 points per game against UMKC and Oral Roberts. In the win over the Kangaroos, the junior guard scored 22 points, including 10-of-12 from the free throw line, grabbed four rebounds, and added four assists and three steals. Against ORU, Hammel tallied 19 points in 19 minutes on 6-of-9 shooting from three-point range.

HIGH SCORING OUTPUT: The 94 points Valpo scored against Oral Roberts in the Mid-Con Tournament were the most the Crusaders have scored in a game since posting 96 points against Quinnipiac in a 96-68 victory on December 29, 2000.

DIALING IN FROM LONG RANGE: Suzie Hammel shot lights out against Ball State from three-point range. The junior guard tied Lynda Kukla's single game school record with eight treys. Hammel made her first seven of the second half and went 8-for-11 on the game. The eight made ties her for the fourth most threes made in a game this season in Division I.

FORCING TURNOVERS: The Crusaders lead the Mid-Con in turnover margin, forcing 4.3 more turnovers per game then they commit. Valpo has averaged just 15.8 giveaways per game, while taking away 20.1.

A WINNING TRADITION: Valparaiso has assured itself of its 12th winning season in the last 13 years. The Crusaders have also posted a winning conference record ten times over the 11 seasons the Mid-Con has sponsored women's basketball, posting a 112-64 (.636) conference record all-time.

VALPO CREATES TAKEAWAYS: The Crusaders forced a season-high 34 turnovers against Southern Utah in the first meeting between the schools. The game marked the fourth time this season that Valpo has forced thirty or more turnovers, Jacksonville committed 33 turnovers against Valpo, while Concordia coughed the ball up 32 times and Indiana Wesleyan turned the ball over 30 times.

GRAY'S ASSAULT ON THE RECORD BOOKS: Jeanette Gray ranks as one of the top Crusaders ever to put on a Brown and Gold uniform. She is second all-time in games played, third in scoring, second in rebounding, and seventh in assists. The senior also ranks in the top ten for her career in field goals made, free throws made, and steals.

AND SHE'S ONLY A SOPHOMORE: Katie Boone may only be a sophomore, but she's already moved onto the Crusaders career assist list. Her 228 dishes over two years currently rank tied for 8th in school history.

GUTOWSKI KNOCKS THEM DOWN: Freshman Jamie Gutowski is on pace to finish in the top-ten on Valpo's single season free throw percentage charts. Her 80.0% currently ranks her ninth in school history, while the tournament games will add to her season percentage.

HAMMEL SHOOTS INTO SEASON RECORD BOOKS: Junior guard Suzie Hammel has moved into seventh place on Valpo's single season list for three-pointers made after draining 52 this season. In her first two season's at Valpo, she made 51 (t-8th) and 65 (4th) which both rank among school-bests as well. Her 159 attempts this year are sixth most in a single season.

SINGLE SEASON NUMBERS: Jeanette Gray moved into the Brown and Gold's top ten all-time for single season rebounding. She has pulled down 210 missed shots this season, tenth most in school history. Sophomore Jenna Stangler needs just one more rejections to move into the top-ten on Valpo's blocked shot list. She currently has sent 23 shots back this season.

GET THE LEAD AT INTERMISSION: Things look bright for the Crusaders when the Brown and Gold enter the locker room at halftime with the lead. Valpo is 16-2 on the year with a lead at break, but have rallied from behind for just one win in ten tries when trailing at intermission. Over the last two seasons, the Crusaders are 36-3 when taking the lead into half.

70 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER: Valpo is unbeaten this season when the Crusaders reach the 70 point mark. The Crusaders are 9-0 on the year when tallying 70 and 22-1 over the last two years when hitting the 70 point plateau.

STANGLER HOT FROM THE FLOOR: Jenna Stangler tied a season-high with 16 points in the semifinal win over Western Illinois shooting a blistering 7-of-8 from the floor. For the tournament she is 10-of-12 (83.3%).

BOONE WOWS THEM ALL: Katie Boone continues to impress. In the quarterfinal win against Oral Roberts, the freshman point guard scored a career-high 18 points while adding 12 more in the semifinals. She has also averaged 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists in the tournament.

DOWN THE ROAD: With a win against Oakland, the Crusaders would capture their first Mid-Continent Conference Tournament title and earn their first trip ever to the NCAA Tournament. The championship selection show is slated for Sunday, March 16 with first round action beginning on Saturday, March 21-22.