#2 VALPARAISO (18-11, 11-5 Mid-Con) vs #3 UMKC (15-13, 11-5 Mid-Con)
WHAT: Hereford House Mid-Continent Conference Tournament Semifinal.
WHEN: Monday, March 8, 2004, 2:15 p.m. CST.
WHERE: Kemper Arena (18,646), Kansas City, Mo.
RADIO: WVUR (95.1-FM), Valparaiso, Ind. JR Radcliffe will handle the play-by-play with Andrew Stem 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 302-164 overall and 173-117 at Valpo. UMKC is led by Dana Eikenberg, who is 38-73 in her 4th season overall and with the Kangaroos.
SERIES RECORD: Valparaiso leads the all-time series with IUPUI 15-6.
REGULAR SEASON MEETINGS: The teams split their regular season meetings between the two schools. UMKC won the first contest 70-54 back on Jan. 12 in Kansas City. Betsy Rietema led the Crusaders with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Casey Ellis scored 22 points for the Kangaroos. In the rematch at the ARC on Feb. 14, Valpo posted a 50-48 victory behind 15 points and six boards from Rietema. Tenielle Grant led UMKC with 12 points.
After a thrilling last-second victory over IUPUI, Valparaiso returns to the hardwood on Monday afternoon in the semifinals of the Hereford House Mid-Continent Conference Tournament. The second-seeded Crusaders will face UMKC, the tourney's third seed.
THREE STRAIGHT SEASONS IN TOP TWO: Valparaiso finished tied for second place in the Mid-Continent Conference for the second straight season, marking the third straight top-two finish for the Brown and Gold. Valpo won the regular season title in 2001-2002.
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 span was in 2000-2001. Valpo's 18 wins thus far this season are tied for the fourth most victories in a season in Crusader history.
GETTING USE TO CLOSE GAMES AT KEMPER: Valpo's one-point victory over IUPUI in the quarterfinals was the Crusaders third straight tournament game at Kemper Arena that the Brown and Gold won by four points or less. After winning by 38 in the quarters last season against Oral Roberts, Valpo posted a four-point triumph over Western Illinois in the semifinals and a two-point win over Oakland in the title game.
GUTOWSKI SAVES THE DAY: Jamie Gutowski kept the Crusaders alive for another day following her runner with 1.4 seconds remaining against IUPUI to give Valpo the 53-52 win.
KNOESTER FINISHING ON A HIGH NOTE: Kathryn Knoester is making the most of her final games for the Crusaders, averaging 16.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.3 steals per game during the last three games. Against IPFW the senior scored a career high 21 points and registered a career best six steals, while adding 14 points against Chicago State. She again led Valpo against IUPUI with 14 points.
UMKC NOTES: UMKC needed a furious second half rally, just like Valpo, to defeat Southern Utah 71-65 in Saturday's quarterfinal. The Kangaroos have won four of their last five contests. The win against the Thunderbirds also marked UMKC's first Mid-Con Tournament win in nine games.
Katie Houlehan led the Kangaroos with 24 points against the Thunderbirds, and raised her season average to 10.5 per contest. She made five triples in the game and went 7-of-8 from the free throw line. She entered the tournament ranked 16th in the nation from three-point range, shooting 42.0%.
UMKC's leading scorer on the season, Carlai Moore, came alive in the second half of the quarterfinal. She went 7-for-7 from the floor and finished with 18 points to improve her season average to 13.1 points per contest.