Wednesday, January 25, 2006
OAKLAND (7-11, 3-4 Mid-Con) at VALPARAISO (11-7, 5-2 Mid-Con)

Saturday, January 28, 2006, 2:05 p.m. CST.

WHERE: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000), Valparaiso, Ind.

RADIO: WVUR (95.1-FM-Valparaiso) and on the internet at Andrew Hansen and Ron Castor will call all of the action.

TV: None.

THE COACHES: Valparaiso is led by Keith Freeman, who is in his 18th season of coaching, and 12th with the Crusaders. He is 333-182 overall and 204-135 at Valpo. Oakland is led by Beckie Francis, who is 127-113 in her 9th season overall and 97-65 in her 6th season with the Golden Grizzlies.

SERIES RECORD: Oakland holds a 10-9 advantage in the overall series with the Crusaders. The Golden Grizzlies lead 4-3 at the Athletics-Recreation Center.

LAST MEETING: Betsy Rietema and Tamra Braun paced four Crusaders in double-figures as Valparaiso broke open a four-point halftime lead in the second half on the way to a 69-55 victory at Oakland on January 2, 2006. Braun had a double-double, grabbing ten boards in addition to her 15 points. Rietema had 15 points as well, while Mayella Kuikhoven and Aimee Litka each scored 13 points for the Brown and Gold. April Kidd led the Golden Grizzlies with 14 points while Jayme Wilson added ten.

Valparaiso heads into a key stretch of home contests beginning on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders welcome Oakland to the Athletics-Recreation Center. Valpo, which is looking to bounce back from a 53-50 loss at Chicago State on Monday, plays five of its next six games at home.

HOME SWEET HOME: Valparaiso has won 11 straight games at the Athletics-Recreation Center since falling to Oakland January 31, 2005. The Crusaders winning streak is currently tied for the 11th longest home streak in the nation.

ALUMNI RETURN TO VALPO: A contingent of more than 25 former Crusader players are expected to return to the ARC on Saturday afternoon for the game. The former athletes will take part in a reception in the newly remodeled Hilltop Gym prior to watching the Valpo-Oakland game.

BRAUN NEARING 500 BOARDS: Tamra Braun enters play just one rebound shy of becoming the 13th player in Valpo history to reach the 500 rebound plateau. The junior center's 499 career boards place her one shy of Katie Boone (2001-2005) for 12th place on the Crusaders' all-time rebounding list.

MYERS AMONG NATION'S TOP 3-POINT SHOOTERS: Carrie Myers has become one of the nation's elite outside shooters. The junior guard ranks 25th in the country shooting 44.0% from beyond the arc and is 28th making 2.67 triples per contest.

OUTSIDE SHOOTING 6TH IN THE NATION: Valparaiso is shooting 39.8% from three-point range this season, a mark which ranks sixth in the country through Monday's games. Four players are shooting better than 40% on the season from beyond the arc.

ALSO AMONG THE NATION'S BEST: Valpo is in the top-25 in the nation in three other statistical categories besides three-point shooting through January 23. The Crusaders have committed the fifth fewest fouls of any team in the country (13.2 per game), rank 21st in scoring defense allowing just 55.1 points per game, and are 18th committing just 14.1 turnovers per contest.

DOWN THE ROAD: Valparaiso remains at home on Monday evening as the Brown and Gold welcomes IUPUI to the ARC. The Crusaders will face the Jaguars for the first time this season, despite the fact that they are beginning the second half of league play. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m. Valpo then heads on the road next Saturday, February 4, traveling to Cedar City, Utah for an 8:05 p.m. CST contest with Southern Utah. The Crusaders then return to the ARC for three straight games.

OAKLAND NOTES: Oakland snapped a two-game losing streak last Saturday afternoon as the Golden Grizzlies posted a 78-63 victory against Centenary at home. The Golden Grizzlies are playing just their third league game away from Rochester, Mich. this season when they travel to Valpo.

Jayme Wilson paces three players averaging in double-figures for Oakland. The senior guard is averaging 16.3 points per contest and has played more minutes (35.56 per game) than any other player in the Mid-Con.

Anne Hafeli adds 13.7 points per game, and has posted six 20-plus point scoring efforts this season. Hafeli is also the team's leading free throw shooter, connecting on 86.4% of her attempts this year.

Nicole Piggott adds 12.8 rebounds per contest for the Golden Grizzlies. The junior also leads the team on the glass, grabbing 5.7 rebounds per night. She was 7-of-11 from the floor on the way to 17 points against Centenary.