SOUTHERN UTAH (12-4, 3-2 Mid-Con) at VALPARAISO (9-8, 4-2 Mid-Con)
WHEN: Saturday, January 24, 2004, 7:05 p.m. CST.
WHERE: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000), Valparaiso, Ind.
RADIO: WVUR (95.1-FM), Valparaiso, Ind. Steve Rhodes will handle the play-by-play with Jeremy Bronn providing the color commentary.
THE COACHES: Valparaiso is led by Keith Freeman, who is in his 16th season of coaching, and 10th with the Crusaders. He is 293-161 overall and 164-114 at Valpo. Southern Utah is led by Joe Hillock, who is 100-106 in his 8th season overall and with the Thunderbirds.
SERIES RECORD: Valparaiso leads the overall series with Southern Utah 8-4 dating back to an 86-82 Crusader win in Cedar City on January 8, 1997. The teams split last year's meetings, each winning at home.
LAST MEETING: Southern Utah downed the Crusaders 68-62 on February 15, 2003. Jeanette Gray led Valpo with 16 points and 13 rebounds, while Casey Cooke led Southern Utah with 16 points.
After moving into a tie for second place in the Mid-Continent Conference standings, Valparaiso will return to the ARC on Saturday evening to host Southern Utah in the first of three straight home contests.
FREEMAN SETS MID-CON RECORD: Valpo head coach Keith Freeman passed Ed DiGregorio (Youngstown State, 1992-2001) to become the all-time winningest coach in Mid-Continent Conference history when the Crusaders defeated IUPUI on Monday. Freeman now has 164 wins at Valpo, and also holds the conference record for games coached (278), and is tied with DiGregorio for conference games coached (148). Freeman is currently two wins behind DiGregorio for conference victories with 96.
VALPO TAKES CARE OF THE BALL: The Crusaders currently rank 17th in the nation in turnovers per game according to the January 20 NCAA rankings. Valpo has turned the ball over just 14.4 times per game on the season.
HAMMEL SCORES SEASON HIGH: Suzy Hammel notched a season-high 22 points, including four three-pointers, on Monday evening at IUPUI. The senior made 8-of-12 total field goal attempts. Hammel currently ranks 28th in the nation in three-point field goal percentage, shooting 41.8% from beyond the arc.
BOONE DOES IT ALL: Katie Boone filled about every category on the stat sheet on Monday night. The junior point guard scored 13 points, grabbed six rebounds, dished out seven assists, and added a steal. She made 3-of-4 triple tries.
GUTOWSKI CATCHES FIRE: Jamie Gutowski has caught fire from the outside over the past nine games. She has posted eight double-figure efforts, averaging 12.2 points per game over the span. In addition, she leads the Mid-Con in three-point shooting, connecting on 46.2% of her attempts.
SOUTHERN UTAH NOTES: Southern Utah continues its four-game road trip this evening after the Thunderbirds saw their three-game winning streak snapped at Oakland on Monday night with a 73-61 loss. Prior to the loss, Southern Utah had won nine of its last ten games.
Casey Cooke and Lacey Yates lead the Thunderbirds both offensively and defensively. Cooke is averaging a team-best 12.9 points per game, and also ranks second in the nation in steals per contest with 3.9. She also is dishing out 5.4 assists per game.
Yates is tallying 12.8 points per night and grabbing a team-leading 6.5 rebounds per game. A 46.7% shooter from the floor, she has tallied three double-doubles on the season.
Head coach Joe Hillock reached the 100-win plateau last Saturday with Southern Utah's win at IUPUI, and guides a team that ranks third in the country in steals per game (14.4) and is 26th in scoring offense (74.5 ppg).