#4 VALPARAISO (15-12, 9-7 Mid-Con) vs. #5 UMKC (10-17, 8-8 Mid-Con)
WHAT: Mid-Continent Conference Tournament Quarterfinal.
WHEN: Sunday, March 5, 2006, 12 p.m. CST.
WHERE: John Q. Hammons Arena (5,662), 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 with Brad Spata on the sidelines.
TV: None. Video is available online at www.mid-con.tv on a pay-per-view basis.
THE COACHES: Valparaiso is led by Keith Freeman, who is in his 18th season of coaching, and 12th with the Crusaders. He is 337-187 overall and 208-140 at Valpo. UMKC is led by Bo Overton, who is 20-37 in his 2nd season overall and with the Kangaroos.
SERIES RECORD: Valparaiso holds an 18-9 all-time advantage against UMKC in a series that began January 5, 1995. The schools have met on a neutral floor three times, all in the Mid-Con Tournament, with the Crusaders going 2-1 against the Kangaroos.
THIS SEASON: Valparaiso defeated UMKC 65-31 on December 30 in the Mid-Con opener for both teams at the ARC. Tamra Braun led Valpo with 17 points and seven rebounds while Brittny Picconi had eight points for the Kangaroos. On February 25 in Kansas City the Kangaroos posted a 69-63 win over Valpo. Launa Hochstetler led the Brown and Gold with 14 points while Stephanie Brown and Jowan Ortega each had 14 for UMKC.
In a rematch of last year's Mid-Continent Conference Tournament quarterfinal, Valparaiso will head to Tulsa, Okla. on Sunday afternoon to battle UMKC. The Crusaders, the tournament's fourth seed, will look to avenge the first round upset from the Kangaroos, this year's fifth seed, that ended last season.
RIETEMA NAMED THIRD TEAM ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICAN: Junior forward Betsy Rietema was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Third Team as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Rietema, Valpo's top scorer averaging 13.0 points per game, carries a 3.96 grade point average with a double major in psychology and chemistry. She was also named a First Team Academic All-District V selection by CoSIDA as well.
CRUSADERS WELL REPRESENTED ON THE ALL MID-CON TEAMS: Valparaiso had three players earn All Mid-Continent Conference honors when the league handed out its annual postseason awards. Tamra Braun (11.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg) was named to the First Team for the second straight season while Betsy Rietema (13.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg) earned Second Team accolades. Carrie Myers (11.3 ppg, 41.0% 3-pt.) earned Honorable Mention honors for the Crusaders.
A WINNING TRADITION: Valpo has assured itself of its 15th winning season in the last 16 years. The Crusaders also clinched their 13th winning Mid-Con season in the 14 years of conference play.
SHADES OF THE 2002-2003 SEASON?: The end of this season draws comparisons to the end of the 2002-2003 regular season for the Crusaders. That was the last season Valpo played its final game of the regular season on the road (a loss like last year). The Brown and Gold finished as the fourth seed in the tournament that year, and returned the following weekend to the same city (Kansas City) that they finished the regular campaign in, just as they are this year heading back to Tulsa. Valpo also finished the regular season with the same 15-12 record in that year. The end result? The Crusaders won their first ever Mid-Con Tournament crown and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
FREEMAN MID-CON'S WINNINGEST COACH: Head coach Keith Freeman is atop the Mid-Continent Conference record books in various categories. The 12th year head coach leads all conference leaders with 348 games coached, 208 career wins, 190 conference games coached, and 124 conference victories.
VALPO DOWNS SOME OF THE BEST CONFERENCES: Valparaiso's November 30 win against Northwestern was the sixth for the Crusaders against a team from a major conference in the last seven years. It is Valpo's third win against the Big Ten during that stretch (Michigan, 2001-2002 and Indiana, 1998-1999). The Brown and Gold have also toppled teams from the Pac-10 (Washington State, 2004-2005), Atlantic Coast Conference (Wake Forest, 2001-2002), and Western Athletic Conference (Fresno State, 2002-2003).
INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR: Valpo has five different countries represented on the roster in 2005-2006. In addition to the United States, there are representatives from Belgium (Evva Comans), Finland (Sanna Helenius), the Netherlands (Mayella Kuikhoven), and Poland (Agnieszka Kulaga).
MYERS EARNS ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM HONORS: Carrie Myers was named to the National City Bank Xavier Invitational All-Tournament Team after scoring 23 and 16 points in games against Kent State and Xavier respectively. Her three-pointer with 3.8 seconds remaining in regulation against Kent State tied the game and sent the Crusaders into overtime, erasing a 17-point second half deficit. She averaged 19.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in the tournament.
RIETEMA EARNS MID-CON HONORS: Forward Betsy Rietema was named the Mid-Continent Conference Player of the Week on November 22 after exploding in the first two games for the Crusaders. The junior averaged 23.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 5.5 steals per game against Northern Iowa and Bradley. In the win over the Panthers, she scored 24 points, one off of her career high, while adding career-bests in rebounds (nine) and steals (six). At Bradley, she played 48 minutes scoring 22 points and adding eight rebounds and five steals.
MYERS EARNS MID-CON HONOR: Carrie Myers was named the Mid-Continent Conference co-Player of the Week on November 29 after averaging 19.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game at the Xavier Invitational. She scored 23 points in the win against Kent State while grabbing a career-high eight rebounds. Myers added 16 points in the loss to Xavier.
BRAUN NAMED MID-CON PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Tamra Braun has been named the Mid-Continent Conference Player of the Week on January 3 after turning in three solid outings. The junior center averaged 14.0 points and 6.7 rebounds while shooting 64.0% against Notre Dame, UMKC, and Oakland. She turned in her fifth double-double of the season with 15 points and ten rebounds at Oakland.
CRUSADERS PICKED THIRD, FINISHES FOURTH IN THE MID-CON: Valparaiso was picked to finish in third place this season in the Mid-Continent Conference in the preseason poll of the league's head coaches, sports information directors, and selected media outlets and finished one spot below the predictions in fourth place. Western Illinois was picked to win the league title and proved the voters correct.
VALPO OWNS THE HOOSIER CLASSIC: Valpo is 5-1 all-time at the Hoosier Classic, after posting a 61-49 victory over Ball State in this year's event. The Crusaders have won their last five games in the event.
A RECORD-SETTING DEFENSIVE EFFORT: Valparaiso set a new school mark allowing just 31 points against UMKC on December 30. The Crusaders bettered their previous mark of 34 set 20 years ago against Manchester on November 22, 1985.
TOUGH AT THE ARC: Since the 2001-2002 season, Valparaiso has won nearly 80% of their games at the Athletics-Recreation Center. In the past five years, the Crusaders are 51-13 (.797) at home.
MID-CON TOURNEY AVAILABLE ONLINE: Live video streaming of the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament will be available through www.mid-con.tv. An all-tournament pass will cost $19.95 with session-by-session passes available for $4.95.
MYERS HELPS CAP MAJOR COMEBACK: Carrie Myers drained a 21-foot three-pointer with 3.8 seconds remaining against Kent State to help Valpo rally from a 17-point second half deficit and force overtime. The Crusaders beat the Golden Flashes in the extra session.
BECHTOLD MOVES INTO SIXTH ON ALL-TIME ASSIST LIST: Lauren Bechtold has 285 career assists and has moved into sixth place on Valpo's career assist list. The senior guard trails Sharie Toelke (1990-1994) by 55 helpers for fifth place all-time.
FREEMAN WINS NUMBER 200 AT VALPO: Head coach Keith Freeman became the first coach in Valparaiso women's basketball history to win 200 games on the Crusader bench with his win at Oakland on Monday, January 2. He also became the first coach in Mid-Continent Conference history to reach the milestone.
BRAUN MOVES INTO THE TOP-TEN AMONG VALPO'S ALL-TIME BEST REBOUNDERS: Tamra Braun may be only a junior, but she has already moved into ninth place on Valparaiso's career rebounding charts. She has 576 career boards. Carie Wickham (1996-2001) is eighth all-time with 642 career rebounds.
BRAUN MOVES UP THE MID-CON CHARTS IN BLOCKED SHOTS: Tamra Braun has moved into the top-ten on the Mid-Con's career blocked shots list with 139 swats during her career. She is eighth in conference history and trails Lauren Powers (UMKC, 1997-2001) by five blocks for seventh place. Braun is also second all-time at Valpo behind Michelle Mader (1988-1992), who had 166 rejections.
VALPO'S OUTSIDE SHOOTING 28TH IN THE NATION: Valparaiso is shooting 36.8% from three-point range this season, a mark which ranks 28th in the country through February 27.
MYERS AMONG NATION'S TOP 3-POINT SHOOTERS: Carrie Myers has become one of the nation's elite outside shooters. The junior guard is 15th in the country making 2.8 triples per contest through games of February 27.
VALPO AMONG THE NATION'S BEST: Valpo is in the top-50 in the nation in several other statistical categories besides three-point shooting through February 27. The Crusaders have committed the tenth fewest fouls of any team in the country (14.1 per game), rank 19th in scoring defense allowing just 55.9 points per game, and are 29th committing just 14.5 turnovers per contest.
GUTOWSKI AND MYERS MOVING UP TRIPLES CHART: Senior Jamie Gutowski is now fourth all-time at Valpo with 146 three-point field goals. She trails Sarah Lenschow (1996-2000) by 25 triples for third place. Junior Carrie Myers has also moved into eighth place with 129 threes and trails Kathryn Knoester (2000-2004) by three triples for seventh place.
SWAT TEAM: Tamra Braun's 41 blocked shots this season currently ranks her fifth on the Crusaders' all-time single season list. She is two swats shy of moving into fourth place. In her three years wearing the Brown and Gold, Braun ranks tied for eighth (32), second (67) and now fifth.
MYERS CONTINUES TO MOVE UP SINGLE SEASON LIST: Carrie Myers 75 triples this season ranks her third on Valpo's single season list. She is 16 treys shy of moving into a tie for second place.
NEAR RECORD SHOOTING PACE: The Crusaders three-point shooting is currently just shy of record pace. Valpo is shooting 36.8% from beyond the arc, just 0.3% behind the current school record. The 1997-1998 team finished the season shooting 37.1% from long range.
RIETEMA LIKES SHOOTING FREE THROWS AT IUPUI: Betsy Rietema connected on 13-of-14 free throws on February 20 at IUPUI, tying for the fifth best shooting night in school history (minimum ten attempts). Ironically, Rietema tied her own mark for fifth place, as she also made 13-of-14 from the line last year at IUPUI.
AND WE'RE GOING TO OVERTIME: Valparaiso's double-overtime victory against Chicago State marked the third time this year the Crusaders have gone to an extra session (or two). Valpo is 2-1 in overtime this season. The last time Valpo played two double-overtime contests in the same season was in 1999-2000. The three total overtime games mark the most in a season since the 2001-2002 squad played three as well.
BECHTOLD PLAYS EVERY NIGHT: Senior Lauren Bechtold has played in every game of her career at Valpo. She enters the Mid-Con Tournament fourth all-time having appeared in 118 contests. With two more appearances she will move into a tie with Amber Schober (1998-2002) for third all-time.
AMONG THE BEST OUTSIDE SHOOTING ALL-TIME: Valpo's 13 three-pointers against Oral Roberts on January 9 tie for the fifth most in a game in school history. The 12 made at Southern Utah rank tied for eighth all-time, while Valpo's 59.1% (13-of-22) from beyond the arc against Oral Roberts marks the eight best percentage in a single game all-time.
DOUBLE-TROUBLE: Tamra Braun has posted six double-doubles on the season and now has 14 for her career. Teammate Betsy Rietema also has added a pair of double-doubles this season, the first two of her career.
THANK YOU SENIORS: Valparaiso's senior class enters play having won 71 games over the past four seasons. The trio of Lauren Bechtold, Jamie Gutowski, and Mayella Kuikhoven have been a part of two Mid-Continent Conference Tournament titles and two NCAA Tournament appearances during their four years on campus. In each of their first three seasons, they have helped the Crusaders finish runner-up in the Mid-Con regular season as well.
MAKING FREE THROWS DOWN THE STRETCH: Valpo has shot free throws extremely well in the final few games of the regular season, making 82.5% (52-of-63) from the line in the final four games heading into the Mid-Con Tournament. For the season the Crusaders are second in the Mid-Con connecting on 69.8% from the line.
DOWN THE ROAD: The winner of the Valparaiso-UMKC Mid-Continent Conference quarterfinal contest will return to the court on Monday afternoon at noon to face the winner of Saturday's quarterfinal game between top-seeded Western Illinois and #8 seed Southern Utah. The semifinal winner then advances to Tuesday's championship game at 12:30 p.m. to be broadcast live on ESPNU. The Mid-Con champion earns the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
UMKC NOTES: UMKC enters the Mid-Con Tournament one of the hottest teams in the league having won three straight, including a season-ending 70-61 overtime victory at regular season champion Western Illinois on Monday night.
The Kangaroos are led by First Team All Mid-Con selection and Newcomer of the Year Stephanie Brown in the post. The junior is averaging 12.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per game while shooting 53.5% from the floor and 77.0% from the line.
UMKC is 3-10 all-time in the Mid-Con Tournament, with its best finish coming last season when the Kangaroos advanced to the championship game before falling to Oral Roberts.