Thursday, December 29, 2005
UMKC (2-9, 0-0 Mid-Con) at VALPARAISO (5-5, 0-0 Mid-Con)

WHEN: Friday, December 30, 2005, 7:05 p.m. CST.

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

RADIO: WVUR (95.1-FM-Valparaiso) and on the internet at Ken LaVicka and Brad Spata 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 327-180 overall and 198-133 at Valpo. UMKC is led by Bo Overton, who is 12-29 in his 2nd season overall and with the Kangaroos.

SERIES RECORD: Valparaiso leads the all-time series with UMKC 17-8. The Crusaders hold a 9-2 edge over the Kangaroos at the Athletics-Recreation Center and have won six straight against UMKC at the ARC.

LAST MEETING: Seventh-seeded UMKC upset the second-seeded Crusaders 59-49 on March 5, 2005 in the quarterfinals of the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament to end last season for Valpo. The game was tied at 49 with three minutes to play before the Kangaroos scored the game's final ten points. Tamra Braun led Valpo with 16 points and 13 rebounds while Betsy Rietema added 11 points for the Crusaders. Sammi Knapic led all scorers with 22 points for UMKC while Alysa Klein added 11 points and 13 rebounds.

After playing .500 basketball against rugged non-conference competition, Valparaiso begins the Mid-Continent Conference slate on Friday evening as the Crusaders entertain UMKC. Valpo is coming off of a 58-50 loss at #11/12 Notre Dame on Wednesday .

VALPO IN MID-CON OPENERS: Valparaiso is 8-5 all-time in Mid-Continent Conference openers since 1992-1993. The Crusaders have won two straight league openers, including last year's victory at Centenary. The last time Valpo opened the Mid-Con slate at home was in 2002-2003 against Western Illinois.

VALPO IN 2005: Valparaiso is 17-10 for the calendar year heading into the final game of 2005.

A BUNCH OF THIEVES: Valparaiso registered 12 steals on Wednesday afternoon at Notre Dame, the third time this season the Crusaders have recorded 12 or more thefts. Betsy Rietema led Valpo with five steals, and leads the Mid-Con with 2.90 per game.

GOOD PERIMETER DEFENSE: Valparaiso has allowed opponents to shoot just 29.1% from three-point range this season, tops in the Mid-Con. That defense has helped the Crusaders allow just 58.0 points per game, second fewest in the league.

BRAUN ON FIRE IN LAST THREE GAMES: Tamra Braun is shooting 70.8% (17-of-24) from the floor over the last three games for the Crusaders. During the span, she has averaged 14.0 points per contest. The junior center has also posted four straight double-figure scoring games for Valpo, including 21 points against Loyola (Ill.) two games ago.

TAKING CARE OF THE BALL: Lauren Bechtold has done a solid job at point guard over the last five games. She has committed just three turnovers in 162 minutes of action.

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 game with 198 career triumphs at the helm of the Brown and Gold.

DOWN THE ROAD: Valparaiso takes to the road for a pair of games to begin 2006. The Crusaders head to Rochester, Mich. on Monday for a 6 p.m. CST contest against Oakland before flying to Shreveport, La. for a game on Wednesday at Centenary. Tipoff against the Ladies is set for 7 p.m. The Crusaders will return to the Athletics-Recreation Center on January 9 against Oral Roberts, the first game of a doubleheader with the men's team. Tipoff is set for 5:15 p.m. and the game will be carried live on WYIN-56 in Northwest Indiana and WHME-46 in South Bend.

UMKC NOTES: UMKC enters the Mid-Continent Conference opener looking to snap a four-game losing skid overall as well as a nine-game road losing streak dating back to last season. The Kangaroos are coming off of an 86-69 set back at Northern Colorado, but have not played since December 20.

Brittny Picconi, a transfer from Xavier University who became eligible just two games ago, has made an immediate impact for the Kangaroos offensively. She has averaged 26.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in the two contests, including a 29-point effort against Wichita State.

Stephanie Brown has added 10.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per contest for UMKC while shooting 53.2% from the floor. The junior is also shooting 79.5% from the line.

As a team, the Kangaroos are committing 22.2 turnovers per contest this season.

UMKC was picked to finish fifth in the Mid-Con.