VALPARAISO (3-4, 0-0 Mid-Con) at LOYOLA (ILL.) (3-7, 0-0 Horizon)
WHEN: Saturday, December 18, 2004, 3 p.m. CST.
WHERE: Gentile Center (5,500), Chicago, Ill.
RADIO: WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso). Jesse Shale and Mike Hasse broadcasting. Also available on the web at www.valpo.edu/athletics.
TV: Tape Delay. Comcast Cablevision Local Access. Dick Harlan and Paul Curtis broadcasting. The game will air on Dec. 23 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 24 at 12 p.m.
THE COACHES: Valparaiso is led by Keith Freeman, who is in his 17th season of coaching, and 11th with the Crusaders. He is 307-169 overall and 178-122 at Valpo. Loyola is led by Mary Helen Walker, who is 55-96 in her 6th season overall and with the Ramblers.
SERIES RECORD: Valparaiso leads the all-time series 8-0. The Crusaders are 4-0 playing at Loyola.
LAST MEETING: Valparaiso defeated Loyola 61-45 on December 14, 2003 at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The Crusaders led by just four, 29-25, at halftime, but played solid defense in the second half. Valpo held the Ramblers to just 24.1% shooting from the field in the second stanza. Suzie Hammel led the Crusaders with 18 points, while Jamie Gutowski added 17 for the Brown and Gold. Mandy Mennella led Loyola with 17 points, including five three-pointers.
Valparaiso heads out on to the road on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders begin a six-game stretch away from the ARC starting in Chicago against Loyola. Valpo will not return home until after the first of the year.
VALPO AMONG NATION'S BEST TAKING CARE OF THE BASKETBALL: The Crusaders are averaging just 11.4 turnover per game this season, which currently ranks third best in the country. Villanova is the nation's leader turning the ball over just 9.6 times per contest.
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Jenna Stangler leads the team in scoring averaging 16.3 points per game. The senior forward has tallied double-figures in each of her first seven games this season. The double-figure streak was extended to nine straight games including the last two in 2003-2004. She has tallied 20 or more points twice already this year.
RIETEMA COMING ON STRONG: Betsy Rietema has slowly crept up the scoring column for the Crusaders. The sophomore is averaging 10.7 points per contest, and has tallied double-figures in four of her last five games.
MYERS A SHARP SHOOTER: Carrie Myers has drained ten three-point field goals in the last two games and climbed among the conference's top shooters from beyond the arc. The sophomore currently ranks 2nd in the Mid-Con in three-point shooting percentage, connecting on 42.9% from beyond the arc.
SUPER SUB: Lauren Bechtold has filled in well at the starting point guard position the last two games for the Crusaders. The junior has averaged 5.5 assists per game, including a career-high seven against Central Michigan.
SULTAN OF SWATS: Tamra Braun is knocking about every shot she sees away in the early going. She has 15 blocks on the year, and now has 46 for her career, just six rejections shy of moving onto Valpo's top-ten blocked shot list. Her 2.1 blocks per game rank 41st in Division I.
LOYOLA NOTES: Loyola enters the game looking to snap a four-game losing skid. The Ramblers dropped 62-58 decision at home against Illinois State last Saturday afternoon. The loss was Loyola's first of the season at home, as the Ramblers are 2-1 at the Gentile Center this season.
Meskhenet Lands leads the Ramblers in scoring on the year with 14.8 points per contest. Lands has caught fire from three-point range this year, shooting 64.0% from beyond the arc.
Ciara Henderson is also averaging in double-figures, tallying 11.3 per night. Henderson is an 85.7% free throw shooter on the year. Danielle Lonie leads Loyola on the glass, grabbing 6.5 boards per contest.
Loyola was picked to finish fifth in the Horizon League this season after finishing 11-17 overall and in a tie for sixth place in the league standings last year.