VALPARAISO (15-11, 9-6 Mid-Con) at ORAL ROBERTS (15-11, 9-6 Mid-Con)
WHEN: Monday, February 27, 2006, 7:05 p.m. CST.
WHERE: Mabee Center (10,575), Tulsa, Okla.
RADIO: WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and on the internet at www.valpo.edu/athletics. Ken LaVicka and Andrew Hansen will call all of the action.
TV: WYIN 56 (Channel 56, Merrillville/Gary, Ind.) Geoff Haxton and Bryndon Manzer 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 337-186 overall and 208-139 at Valpo. Oral Roberts is led by Jerry Finkbeiner, who is 354-167 in his 17th season overall and 155-133 in his 10th season with the Golden Eagles.
SERIES RECORD: Valparaiso holds an 16-5 all-time advantage against Oral Roberts. The Crusaders have a 6-2 edge in Tulsa, and have won the last five meetings between the two schools overall.
LAST MEETING: Valparaiso shot 55.3% from the field and went 13-of-22 (59.1%) from three-point range on the way to defeating the Golden Eagles 81-54 on January 9, 2006 at the ARC. Jamie Gutowski led Valpo with 19 points, including five threes, while Carrie Myers added 18 points on six triples. Betsy Rietema added 14 points for the Crusaders. Elisha Turek led Oral Roberts with 14 points in the loss.
Valparaiso will look to snap a two-game losing skid as well as look to build some momentum heading into the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament as the Crusaders close the regular season on Monday evening at Oral Roberts. The Crusaders and Golden Eagles are tied for third in the Mid-Con standings with the winner earning the third seed in the league's premier event which begins on Saturday in Tulsa, Okla.
FRESHMEN HAVE BIG AFTERNOON AT UMKC: A pair of freshmen were responsible for a great deal of Valpo's offense on Saturday afternoon at UMKC with their first double-figure scoring days of their careers. Launa Hochstetler led all Crusader scorers with 14 points off of the bench while Agnieszka Kulaga added ten points in just 13 minutes of action. The guard duo combined to shoot 9-of-19 from the floor and a perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line.
COMING UP BIG ON THE BOARDS: Betsy Rietema and Tamra Braun both had big games on the glass for the Brown and Gold at UMKC. Rietema grabbed a career-best 12 rebounds for the Crusaders, marking the third time this year she has reached the double-figure mark on the boards. Braun had a season-high 13 rebounds, the 11th time this year she has found herself grabbing double digit numbers.
A WINNING TRADITION: Valpo has assured itself of its 15th winning season in the last 16 years. The Crusaders also have clinched their 13th winning Mid-Con season in the 14 years of conference play.
MAKING THE FREEBEES COUNT: Valparaiso has upped its free throw percentage immensely since the Brown and Gold had their bye on Monday, February 13. In the last three games the Crusaders have connected on 80.7% (46-of-57) from the stripe, led by Betsy Rietema. Rietema is 21-of-24 (87.5%) from the line over the last three games. In the process, the junior forward has moved into ninth place all-time at Valpo with 223 makes from the charity stripe.
BRAUN NINTH IN REBOUNDING: Tamra Braun has moved into a tie for ninth place on Valpo's career rebounding list. The junior's 13-board performance at UMKC gives her 571 rebounds in three years.
DOWN THE ROAD: Valparaiso will head to the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament next weekend in Tulsa, Okla. The Crusaders will play a quarterfinal game on Sunday, March 5, regardless of their seeding. Valpo will be the third seed with a victory over Oral Roberts, but would be either a fourth or fifth seed should they falter. Pairings will be announced late on Monday evening following the completion of the regular season for all teams.
ORAL ROBERTS NOTES: Oral Roberts has won three straight games after defeating Centenary 70-43 on Saturday afternoon at home. The Golden Eagles broke open a six-point halftime lead with 40 points in the second stanza.
The Golden Eagles are 8-4 at the Mabee Center this year and will close the regular season with their annual Senior Night contest against the Crusaders.
Elisha Turek leads the way for the Golden Eagles offensively. The junior forward is averaging 16.7 points per game, a total that is second best in the Mid-Continent Conference. Turek also is the team-leader grabbing 8.4 rebounds per contest while shooting 51.1% from the field on the season.
Jenny Hardin is the only other player averaging in double figures for Oral Roberts. The freshman post is adding 10.1 points per night.