Tuesday, December 27, 2005
VALPARAISO (5-4, 0-0 Mid-Con) at #11/12 NOTRE DAME (8-1, 0-0 Big East)

WHEN: Wednesday, December 28, 2005, 1 p.m. CST.

WHERE: Joyce Center (11,418), Notre Dame, Ind.

RADIO: WVUR (95.1-FM-Valparaiso) and on the internet at Ken LaVicka and Andrew Hansen 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 327-179 overall and 198-132 at Valpo. Notre Dame is led by Muffet McGraw, who is 507-197 in her 24th season overall and 419-156 in her 19th season with the Fighting Irish.

SERIES RECORD: Notre Dame leads the all-time series with the Crusaders 18-0. The Fighting Irish hold an 8-0 edge between the two schools at the Joyce Center.

LAST MEETING: Valparaiso was within two points of #3 Notre Dame with 6:19 to play, but the Fighting Irish held off the Crusaders' charge to defeat Valpo 69-59 on November 30, 2004 at the ARC. Valpo was down ten at intermission but closed to 53-51. Betsy Rietema led the Crusaders with 16 points, 14 in the second half, while Jenna Stangler added 14 more for Valpo. Jacqueline Batteast led Notre Dame with 25 points and ten rebounds. Megan Duffy added 20 more for the Fighting Irish.

After a ten day break for the holidays, Valparaiso returns to the hardwood on Wednesday afternoon for a 1 p.m. tipoff against #11/12 Notre Dame on the road. The Crusaders are coming off of a sound 83-50 victory over Loyola (Ill.) on December 18.

BRAUN MAKES SCORING LOOK EASY: Tamra Braun had a field day on the low post in the Crusaders' victory over Loyola (Ill.). The junior center scored a season-high 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting, including an 8-of-10 effort in the first half.

TAKING CARE OF THE BALL: Lauren Bechtold has done a solid job at point guard over the last four games. She has committed just two turnovers in 131 minutes of action, playing all 40 minutes against both Central Michigan and Purdue.

MYERS BURIES THEM FROM DEEP: Carrie Myers is tied for 11th in the nation making 3.3 three-point field goals per game through December 19. The junior is shooting 44.8% from beyond the arc and leads the Crusader roster in scoring, tallying 14.1 points per game. In addition, Myers has scored in double-figures in seven of her last eight games.

FREEMAN CLOSES IN ON 200 WINS AT VALPO: Head coach Keith Freeman is on the verge of becoming the first coach in Valparaiso women's basketball history to win 200 games on the Crusader bench. Freeman enters the Notre Dame game with 198 career triumphs at the helm of the Brown and Gold.

HANDS OFF DEFENSE: Valparaiso has seen much success this season on the defensive end of the floor. The Crusaders are allowing just 58.0 points per game, holding six opponents below the 60-point mark. Valpo has played defense without fouling as well, as the Brown and Gold average just 12.9 fouls per game, fourth fewest in Division I through December 19.

STARTING SOMEONE NEW: Mayella Kuikhoven made her first collegiate start against Loyola (Ill.) and made the most of it. The senior scored ten points on 4-of-7 shooting from the floor, grabbed five rebounds and dished out a career-high five assists.

DOWN THE ROAD: Valparaiso returns to the hardwood on Friday evening as the Crusaders host UMKC to open the 2005-2006 Mid-Continent Conference season. Tipoff at the Athletics-Recreation Center is set for 7:05 p.m. The Brown and Gold then return to the road for a two-game swing to open the 2006 calendar year. Valpo heads to Rochester, Mich. on January 2 for a 6 p.m. CST contest against Oakland before heading south to Shreveport, La. for a January 4 game at 7 p.m. against Centenary.

NOTRE DAME NOTES: Notre Dame enters the game ranked #11/12 in the latest polls. The Fighting Irish have been off since December 18 when they won the Dual in the Desert by posting a 68-55 victory over #22 Utah. Notre Dame is playing its first home game in nearly a month since downing Iona 74-55 back on November 29.

The Fighting Irish are led by Megan Duffy. The senior guard is averaging 16.1 points, 5.0 assists, and 4.0 steals per contest. Duffy is also shooting 90.5% from the free throw line on the season.

Melissa D'Amico is also tallying double figures for Notre Dame. The sophomore center is pouring in 10.3 points and grabbing 6.0 rebounds per contest while shooting 56.9% from the floor.

As a team, Notre Dame is +9.6 in scoring margin on the way to the 8-1 start. The Fighting Irish are picked to finish third in the Big East according to the preseason poll. They remain at home on New Years' Eve to host Tennessee.