VALPARAISO (12-8, 6-3 Mid-Con) at SOUTHERN UTAH (8-12, 1-8 Mid-Con)
WHEN: Saturday, February 4, 2006, 8:05 p.m. CST.
WHERE: The Centrum (5,000), Cedar City, Utah.
RADIO: Online at www.sportsjuice.com. Ken LaVicka and Brad Spata will call all of the action.
THE COACHES: Valparaiso is led by Keith Freeman, who is in his 18th season of coaching, and 12th with the Crusaders. He is 334-183 overall and 205-136 at Valpo. Southern Utah is led by Joe Hillock, who is 125-141 in his 10th season overall and with the Thunderbirds.
SERIES RECORD: Valparaiso holds a 12-5 advantage all-time in the series with the Thunderbirds and has won the last three meetings. In Cedar City, the teams have split eight meetings 4-4.
LAST MEETING: A trio of Crusaders scored 17 points each and Valparaiso shot 55.6% from the floor on the way to a 77-58 victory over Southern Utah at the ARC on January 21, 2006. Tamra Braun went 8-of-11 from the floor while Betsy Rietema and Carrie Myers were each 6-of-8 as all three scored 17 points for the Brown and Gold. Cassie Hahl came off of the bench to score 16 points to lead Southern Utah while Charmaine Piula added nine.
After downing first place IUPUI on Monday evening, Valparaiso looks to remain near the top of the conference standings on Saturday evening as the Crusaders travel to Southern Utah. Valpo is one game out of first place in the Mid-Continent Conference standings entering the weekend.
SUPER WOMAN: Lauren Bechtold played all 40 minutes for the Brown and Gold in the win over IUPUI on Monday. The senior has now been on the floor for the entire contest three times this season and nine times in her career.
RIETEMA FILLS THE STAT SHEETS: Betsy Rietema has tallied double-figures in the scoring column in eight of her last nine games after pouring in 18 against IUPUI on Monday. The junior forward is averaging 14.6 points per game during the span. She is also grabbing 6.1 rebounds and dishing out 2.9 assists over the last nine games.
BRAUN DOESN'T MISS IN THE MID-CON: Tamra Braun leads the Mid-Continent Conference in field goal percentage connecting on 55.6% of her shots this season. Her shooting numbers are even better against conference foes, as the junior is making 61.8% from the floor. She has also been collecting others' misses, having grabbed five or more boards in every conference game this season.
GUARD DUO AMONG VALPO'S BEST OUTSIDE SHOOTERS: Carrie Myers has now joined Jamie Gutowski among Valpo's top-ten career three-pointer shooters. Gutowski ranks seventh in school history having made 130 triples while Myers has moved into tenth place all-time with 111 treys.
VALPO'S OUTSIDE SHOOTING 5TH IN THE NATION: Valparaiso is shooting 40.1% from three-point range this season, a mark which ranks fifth in the country.
MYERS AMONG NATION'S TOP 3-POINT SHOOTERS: Carrie Myers has become one of the nation's elite outside shooters. The junior guard ranks 16th in the country shooting 44.9% from beyond the arc and is 15th making 2.85 triples per contest.
DOWN THE ROAD: Valparaiso returns to the Athletics-Recreation Center on Monday evening to begin its final homestand of the 2005-2006 regular season. The Crusaders will entertain Centenary beginning at 7:05 p.m. Western Illinois will then come to Valparaiso on February 11 for a 2:05 p.m. contest with the Crusaders. After a week off, Chicago State visits the ARC on Senior Day, February 18, for a 2:05 p.m. game.
SOUTHERN UTAH NOTES: Southern Utah snapped a nine-game losing skid and recorded its first Mid-Continent Conference victory of the season last Saturday as the Thunderbirds topped Chicago State 55-44 at home.
The Thunderbirds have gone 5-4 at the Centrum this season and are wrapping up a three-game homestand against Valpo.
Cassie Hahl leads Southern Utah in scoring, averaging 13.8 points per game, fifth best in the Mid-Con. She is shooting 42.2% from three-point range, a mark that ranks third in the league.
Charmaine Piula has added 11.1 points per night for the Thunderbirds this season and is an 81.1% free throw shooter, second best in the Mid-Con.
As a team, Southern Utah has made at least one three-pointer in 282 consecutive games, the fifth longest streak in Division I.
Southern Utah was picked to finish seventh in the Mid-Con this season and currently sits in ninth place.