Tuesday, December 31, 2002
VALPARAISO (6-5, 0-0 Mid-Con) at JACKSONVILLE (2-7, 0-0 A-Sun)

WHEN: Friday, January 3, 2003, 6:00 p.m. CST.

WHERE: Swisher Gymnasium (1,500), Jacksonville, Fla.

RADIO: WVUR (95.1-FM), Valparaiso. Steve Rhodes 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 272-145 overall and 143-98 with Valpo. Jacksonville is led by Melissa Taketa, who is 245-271 in her 19th season overall and 25-67 in her 4th season with the Dolphins.

SERIES RECORD: This is the first meeting between Jacksonville and Valparaiso.

The Valparaiso Crusaders look to open the year 2003 with the same result as they closed 2002 with, travelling to Jacksonville on Friday evening. Valpo is coming off of a 68-54 victory over Lehigh on Sunday afternoon.

LOOKING FOR THE SAME SUCCESS IN 2003: The Crusaders hope that 2003 is just as prosperous as 2002 was for the Brown and Gold. Valpo went 24-8 during the 2002 calendar year, including a Mid-Continent Conference title and a quarterfinal run in the WNIT.

RECORD SETTING NIGHT: Valparaiso tied a school record since becoming Division I allowing just 39 points against Indiana Wesleyan. The Crusaders also allowed 39 points against Prairie View A&M in the 1998-1999 season. Valpo has not given up fewer than 39 points since the 1985-1986 campaign when the Brown and Gold yielded just 34 to Manchester.

STANGLER GETS HOT: Jenna Stangler caught fire on Sunday afternoon against Lehigh. The sophomore scored a season-high 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor, while grabbing six rebounds. She also tallied a career best three steals.

DEFENSE WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS: The Crusaders discovered last season the success that comes from quality defense, ranking among the top-15 in the nation in scoring defense. Valpo has turned in the same effort over the last four games, not allowing a team to score more than 54 points since back on December 7 against Ball State, and the Crusaders are averaging just 59.8 points allowed per game on the season.

HAMMEL AMONG MID-CON'S TOP SCORERS: Suzie Hammel's 14.0 points per game tie her for fourth in the Mid-Continent Conference in scoring on the season. The junior guard has tallied double figures in nine of Valpo's 11 games on the season, including eight of the last nine.

JACKSONVILLE NOTES: Jacksonville is looking to stop a four-game losing skid when the Dolphins face the Crusaders. The Dolphins dropped a 68-53 decision to Long Island on Monday night at home.

Jacksonville has been led by forward Kat Sungy. The senior is averaging 14.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game on the season, while shooting 65.4% from the floor. Sungy tallied 14 points against the Blackbirds, while recording a double-double, 15 points and 11 rebounds, two days earlier against Fordham.

Kara Donnell got hot against Long Island, scoring 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor. The sophomore center is third on the team in scoring, averaging 9.2 points per game, while second on the boards grabbing 7.1 rebounds per night on the season.

The Dolphins have turned the ball over a great deal this season, averaging 26.1 giveaways per game.

Jacksonville's game against Valpo is the fifth of seven straight home contests for the Dolphins and their final match-up before beginning conference play.

DOWN THE ROAD: The Crusaders will conclude their non-conference portion of the schedule on Monday evening when the Brown and Gold travel to Nashville, Tenn. to battle Lipscomb. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. CST. Valpo will return to the ARC on January 11 to begin defense of their Mid-Continent Conference crown hosting the preseason favorites, Western Illinois. Tip-off in the Mid-Con opener is set for 2:05 p.m. to begin a three-game homestand.