Thursday, March 6, 2003
#4 VALPARAISO (15-12, 8-6) vs. #5 ORAL ROBERTS (18-9, 7-7)

WHAT: Conoco Mid-Continent Conference Tournament Quarterfinals

WHEN: Saturday, March 8, 2003, 2:15 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: None.

THE COACHES: Valparaiso is led by Keith Freeman, who is in his 15th season of coaching, and 9th with the Crusaders. He is 281-152 overall and 152-105 with Valpo. Oral Roberts is led by Jerry Finkbeiner, who is 286-115 in his 12th season overall and 100-99 in his 7th season with the Golden Eagles.

SERIES RECORD: Valparaiso leads the overall series with the Golden Eagles 10-4. The Crusaders have won the last five meetings between the schools.

SEASON MEETINGS: Valpo downed Oral Roberts 66-43 back on Feb. 3 at the ARC as Suzie Hammel led the Crusaders with 19 points and Jeanette Gray added ten. Amanda Stone and Stephanie Clark led the Golden Eagles with eight points each. In the rematch last Saturday in Tulsa, Valpo came away with an 80-65 victory. Lauren Bechtold led five Crusaders in double-figures with 15 points, while Gray and Jamie Gutowski added 12 each. Cori Williston led Oral Roberts with 26 points and Shayne McKenzie added 12 more.

The Valparaiso Crusaders begin postseason play on Saturday afternoon when the Brown and Gold take on fifth-seeded Oral Roberts in the quarterfinals of the Conoco Mid-Continent Conference Tournament. Valpo, the tournament's fourth seed, is coming off of a 67-52 loss at UMKC on Monday to close the regular season, but defeated the Golden Eagles in both meetings earlier this season.

LOOKING FOR A FIRST TOURNAMENT TITLE: Valparaiso has never won the Mid-Con Tournament nor have the Crusaders ever received a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Valpo has made the championship game three 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.

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 finished third on the team in scoring, averaging 8.9 ppg, and was second in rebounding with 5.4 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 third in assist-to-turnover ratio.

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.

ORAL ROBERTS NOTES: Oral Roberts enters the tournament on a three-game losing skid after dropping an 82-67 decision at home to Western Illinois on Monday evening. All three of the Golden Eagles losses were at home.

Cori Williston leads ORU averaging 12.7 points per game and ranks seventh in the Mid-Con in scoring. She also ranks tenth in field goal percentage, shooting 44.4%, and leads the conference shooting 43.5% from three-point range.

Leah Cannon is scoring 9.7 points per outing and leads the Mid-Con with a 1.52 assist-to-turnover ratio. She is second in the conference dishing out 5.41 assists.

As a team, Oral Roberts leads the conference connecting on 7.37 three-point field goals per contest and grabbing 14.04 offensive rebounds per night.

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 1,426 points and brought down 730 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 116 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 91 points Valpo scored against Concordia (Wis.) 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 4.81 more turnovers per game then they commit. Valpo has averaged just 15.9 giveaways per game, second best in the Mid-Con, while taking away a league-high 20.7.

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 to-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 218 dishes over two years currently rank 10th in school history, one ahead of junior Suzie Hammel.

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 81.0% currently ranks her eighth 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.

APPROACHING THE TOP TEN: Jeanette Gray needs just 16 more boards this season to move into the Brown and Gold's top ten all-time for single season rebounding. She has pulled down 193 missed shots this season. Sophomore Jenna Stangler needs just two more rejections to move into the top-ten on Valpo's blocked shot list. She currently has sent 22 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 14-2 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 34-3 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 8-0 on the year when tallying 70 and 21-1 over the last two years when hitting the 70 point plateau.

DOWN THE ROAD: With a win against Oral Roberts, the Crusaders would continue their season on Monday afternoon in the Conoco Mid-Continent Conference Tournament semifinals at 12 p.m. Valparaiso's opponent would be the winner of the first quarterfinal between top-seeded Western Illinois and Southern Utah, the eighth seed. A win in the semis would propel Valpo into the conference title game on Tuesday night at 5 p.m. in a game that will be televised by Fox Sports Net.