Wednesday, January 11, 2006
IPFW (2-11, Independent) at VALPARAISO (9-5, 4-0 Mid-Con)

WHEN: Thursday, January 12, 2006, 7:05 p.m. CST.

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

RADIO: WVUR (95.1-FM-Valparaiso) and on the internet at Brent Whitlock and Eric Brooks 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 331-180 overall and 202-133 at Valpo. IPFW is led by Chris Paul, who is 1-4 in his 1st season overall and with the Mastodons.

SERIES RECORD: Valparaiso leads the all-time series with the Mastodons 6-4. The Crusaders have won the last two meetings in the series.

LAST MEETING: Valparaiso built a 38-19 halftime advantage on the way to an 80-65 victory over IPFW at the Athletics-Recreation Center on February 28, 2004. Kathryn Knoester led the Crusaders with 21 points while Jenna Stangler added 14 for the Brown and Gold. Courtney Nicley led the Mastodons with 22 points and 11 rebounds in the loss.

Riding a four-game winning streak, Valparaiso will play its final non-conference game of the season on Thursday evening as the Crusaders welcome IPFW to the Athletics-Recreation Center. The Crusaders have won five of their last six contests overall and sit a top the Mid-Continent Conference standings at 4-0 after posting an 81-54 victory over Oral Roberts on Monday night.

HOME SWEET HOME: Valparaiso has enjoyed playing in the friendly confines of the Athletics-Recreation Center this season, posting a 5-0 mark at home. The Crusaders have won nine straight at the ARC dating back to last season. This season at the ARC Valpo is outscoring opponents by nearly 23 points per game, averaging 69.6 points per outing while holding opponents to just 46.8 points per night. The Crusaders are also shooting 46.0% at home while holding the opposition to just 33.7% shooting.

GETTING TO THE FREE THROW LINE: Valpo has been to the charity stripe 96 times in four Mid-Con games this season (24 per game), making 60 of the tries. Valpo has made eight more attempts than opponents have shot against them, as the opposition has gone to the line just 52 times in conference play. On the season overall the Crusaders have shot 56 more free throws than the opposition.

STINGY DEFENSE IN THE MID-CON: Mid-Continent Conference opponents have struggled to score against the Brown and Gold in the first four games of league play. Valpo is allowing just 46.8 points per contest over the span , holding conference foes to just 32.5% shooting from the floor (including 26.3% from three-point range) and forcing 18.0 turnovers per contest.

AMONG THE NATION'S BEST: Valparaiso ranks in the top-20 in the nation in four statistical categories. The Crusaders have committed the fourth fewest fouls of any team in the country (13.1 per game), rank 15th in three-point field goal percentage shooting 39.2%, 19th in scoring defense allowing just 54.8 points per game, and are 20th committing just 14.3 turnovers per contest. Individually, Carrie Myers ranks 18th in the country making 2.8 three-pointers per game.

DOWN THE ROAD: The Brown and Gold will take to the road on Monday evening in an attempt to stop the nation's longest homecourt winning streak. Valpo will battle Western Illinois, which has won 44 in a row in Macomb, at 6 p.m. in a battle of unbeaten teams in the Mid-Continent Conference. The Crusaders then return to the Athletics-Recreation Center on Saturday, January 21, to take on Southern Utah. Tip-off is set for 2:05 p.m.

IPFW NOTES: IPFW heads to Valparaiso looking to snap a three-game losing skid while also trying to pick up its first road victory of the season. The Mastodons are coming off of a 79-77 defeat in overtime on Saturday night against Radford.

Dating back to last season the Mastodons have dropped 13 straight outside of Fort Wayne.

Johnna Lewis-Carlisle leads the way for IPFW offensively. The sophomore guard is averaging 14.8 points per contest. The team's leading three-point shooter at 37.0%, she scored 22 points against Radford and 23 points against Northern Illinois in her last two outings.

Ashley Johnson also is scoring in double-figures for the Mastodons. The junior guard is posting 10.7 points per night and also leads the team grabbing 6.2 rebounds per game.

As a team, IPFW is shooting 37.9% from the floor but is +1.4 in turnover margin, forcing 17.8 miscues per game while giving the ball up just 16.5 times per game.