VALPARAISO (15-10, 10-4 Mid-Con) at SOUTHERN UTAH (15-8, 6-6 Mid-Con)
WHEN: Saturday, February 21, 2004, 6:15 p.m. CST.
WHERE: The Centrum (5,300), Cedar City, Utah.
RADIO: WVUR (95.1-FM), Valparaiso, Ind. Steve Rhodes will handle the play-by-play with Andy Viano providing the color commentary.
TV: Comcast Cablevision Ch. 43-tape delay. Dick Harlan will handle the play-by-play, while Paul Curtis will provide color commentary. The game will air on Thursday, February 26 at 7 p.m.
THE COACHES: Valparaiso is led by Keith Freeman, who is in his 16th season of coaching, and 10th with the Crusaders. He is 299-163 overall and 170-116 at Valpo. Southern Utah is led by Joe Hillock, who is 103-110 in his 8th season overall and with the Thunderbirds.
SERIES RECORD: Valparaiso leads the all-time series with Southern Utah 9-4 and has won four of the last five meetings between the schools.
LAST MEETING: Valparaiso downed the Thunderbirds 73-63 back on January 24 at the ARC. Jenna Stangler poured in 26 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Suzie Hammel added 17 points for the Brown and Gold. Casey Cooke led Southern Utah with 16 points.
Valparaiso takes to the road for the final time during the 2003-2004 regular season on Saturday evening as the Crusaders look to extend their winning streak to five at Southern Utah. The Crusaders are coming off a 65-47 triumph over Oral Roberts on Monday evening.
FREEMAN CLOSES IN ON 300: Valpo head coach Keith Freeman is going after his 300th career victory against Southern Utah. In his 16th season of coaching, Freeman has posted a 299-163 record overall. Of that win total, 170 have come at Valpo, 85 at St. Joseph's (Ind.), and 44 at Huntington, Freeman's first school.
VALPO AMONG NATION'S BEST: The Crusaders currently rank 19th in the nation in turnovers per game according to the February 17 NCAA rankings. Valpo has turned the ball over just 14.6 times per game. The Crusaders have also committed the 25th fewest number of personal fouls of any team in the country (15.0/game). Individually, Suzie Hammel is 32nd in the country in three-point percentage (39.7%), while ranking 49th in threes per game (2.3).
A WINNING TRADITION: Valpo has assured itself of its 13th winning season in the last 14 years. The only time the Crusaders have not finished over .500 during that time was in 2000-2001. Valpo's 15 wins thus far this season currently rank tenth in Crusader history for victories in a year.
SHARING THE WEALTH: The Crusaders have had a balanced scoring output throughout the season. Valpo has had just six 20-point games all year, but currently has eight players averaging between 5.3 and 10.7 points per game during league play.
DEFENSE: Valpo's defense has allowed just 55.3 points per game during league play, and allowed just one opponent, UMKC, to reach 70 points in a game. In fact, just four conference foes have even reached the 60-point mark.
SUU NOTES: Southern Utah is looking to stop a two-game losing skid after dropping both road games last weekend, the latest a 68-65 setback at Southern Utah on Monday night. The Thunderbirds have fared well at home this season, going 10-2 overall and 5-1 in Mid-Continent Conference play, but has struggled (1-5) on the road during league action.
Casey Cooke ranks fifth in the Mid-Con in scoring, pouring in 13.9 points per game. The junior point guard also is second in the league dishing out 5.0 assists per night.
Lacey Yates also ranks among the top-ten in scoring and rebounding for the Thunderbirds. Her 12.7 points per outing are ninth most in the league, while her 6.4 boards per game also rank ninth in the Mid-Con.
Southern Utah has the Mid-Con's top scoring offense, scoring 72.7 points per night. The Thunderbirds are also tops in the conference in three-point field goal percentage (37.4%), steals (13.09), assists (17.70), and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.10).