Wednesday, March 19, 2003
#15 VALPARAISO (18-12, 8-6 Mid-Con) at #2 PURDUE (26-5, 12-4 Big Ten)

WHAT: NCAA Tournament First Round

WHEN: Saturday, March 22, 2003, approximately 12:30 p.m. CST.

WHERE: Mackey Arena (14,123), West Lafayette, Ind.

RADIO: WVUR (95.1-FM) and WE-FM (95.9-Michigan City), Valparaiso. Steve Rhodes will provide the play-by-play, with Andrew Stem adding the color commentary. Mark Couser is the sideline reporter.

TV: ESPN2. Pam Ward and Jimmy Dykes will provide the on-air talent.

THE COACHES: Valparaiso is led by Keith Freeman, who is in his 15th season of coaching, and 9th with the Crusaders. He is 284-152 overall and 155-105 with Valpo. Purdue is led by Kristy Curry, who is 104-26 in her 4th season overall and with the Boilermakers.

SERIES RECORD: Purdue leads the overall series with the Crusaders 8-0 dating back to the 1970-1971 season.

LAST SEASON'S MEETING: Purdue defeated Valpo 76-58 on Nov. 20, 2001. The Boilermakers jumped out to a 36-20 halftime lead and led by as many as 22 in the second half before the Crusaders mounted a rally and closed to within 12 midway through the half. Suzie Hammel led the Crusaders with 17 points, including five three-pointers, while Jeanette Gray added ten. Shereka Wright led Purdue with 19 points.

PURDUE NOTES: Purdue enters the NCAA Tournament on a five-game winning streak after capturing the Big Ten Tournament. The Boilermakers defeated Ohio State 67-65 in the title game.

Purdue is tied for the ninth longest home court win streak in the country, having won 14 consecutive games at Mackey Arena.

Shereka Wright leads the Boilermakers scoring 19.4 points and grabbing 6.2 rebounds per contest. The junior forward has been to the free throw line 279 times this season, shooting 75.6% from the charity stripe.

Erika Valek has tallied 13.4 points per game and dished out 5.1 assists per contest. Mary Jo Noon is the third player Purdue has in double-figures, scoring 10.9 points per game, while shooting 51.2% from the floor.

Purdue is ranked tenth in the nation in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls.

The Valparaiso Crusaders head down I-65 to play instate rival Purdue in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday afternoon. The Crusaders, who are appearing in their first tournament game, are the 15th seed in the East Region, while the Boilermakers are seeded #2.

TOURNAMENT CHAMPS FINALLY: Valpo had appeared in the Mid-Continent Conference title game three times prior to this season, coming up short on each occasion. This year the Crusaders finally broke through, defeating Oakland 48-46 in the title game. Katie Boone made two free throws with 7.4 seconds left to give Valpo the title.

AN MVP PERFORMANCE: Besides hitting the game-winning free throws, Katie Boone did almost everything else to earn the Mid-Con Tournament Most Valuable Player award. She averaged 14.3 points per contest, grabbed 6.7 rebounds and dished out 4.0 assists in the three games. She also made 19-of-23 free throws (82.6%) during the tourney

GRAY AN All-TOURNEY PERFORMER: Jeanette Gray also was named to the Mid-Con All-Tournament Team. Gray recorded her fifth double-double of the year, scoring 12 points and grabbing ten rebounds in the championship game.

STIFLING DEFENSE: Valpo's first half defense in both the Mid-Con semifinals and championship was among the best in tournament history. The Crusaders set a tournament record allowing just 14 points in the championship against Oakland, a day after allowing 16 points against Western Illinois, third fewest in tourney history.

VALPO'S DEFENSE AMONG NATION'S BEST: Valparaiso's scoring defense has cracked the top-30 in the nation after its performance at the conference tournament. The Crusaders are allowing just 57.9 points per game, 29th fewest in Division I.

LOOKING TO GO WHERE NO TEAM HAS GONE BEFORE: Valpo looks to become the first #15 seed to win a women's tournament game since the championship went to a field of 64 in 1994.

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 1,449 points and brought down 757 rebounds in her four years wearing the Brown and Gold.

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.

THE THREES CONTINUE: Entering today's game, Valpo has made at least one three-pointer in 119 consecutive contests. The last time the Crusaders failed to knock down a trey was Nov. 23, 1999 at Purdue.

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 4.10 more turnovers per game then they commit. Valpo has averaged just 15.7 giveaways per game, while taking away 19.8.

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 first all-time in games played, third in scoring, second in rebounding, and seventh in assists. The senior also ranks in the top seven 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 230 dishes over two years currently rank her seventh 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, pending the NCAA Tournament.

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 220 missed shots this season, tenth most in school history. She is just seven boards away from moving all the way up to seventh place. 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 17-2 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 37-3 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.

AMONG THE BEST YEARS EVER AS A TEAM: Valparaiso's 18 victories this season are tied for the fourth most in school history. In the three years the Crusaders won more games, the Brown and Gold tallied at least 20 wins.

IN THE SINGLE SEASON RECORD BOOKS: The Crusaders have cracked the top ten single season record as a team in several categories this year. Valpo's 284 steals are ninth most in school history, the 148 3-point field goals rank seventh, the 474 3-point attempts are fifth, and the 1,718 field goal attempts are ninth most in a single season. In addition, Valpo's 71.9% free throw percentage currently ranks fifth in school history.

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.

DOWN THE ROAD: With a win against Purdue, the Crusaders would advance to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament on Monday evening in West Lafayette, Ind. Valpo would face the winner of #7 seed Virginia Tech and #10 seed Georgia Tech. Game time has yet to be determined.