Wednesday, February 8, 2006
WESTERN ILLINOIS (17-4, 9-2 Mid-Con) at VALPARAISO (14-8, 8-3 Mid-Con)

Saturday, February 11, 2006, 2:05 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 Mike Haase 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 336-183 overall and 207-136 at Valpo. Western Illinois is led by Leslie Crane, who is 131-85 in her 8th season overall and with the Westerwinds.

SERIES RECORD: Valparaiso holds a 17-13 advantage all-time in the series with Western Illinois dating back to December 9, 1988. The Crusaders have posted a 10-3 edge against the Westerwinds at the ARC. Over the past three seasons, the home team has won each of the five meetings between the two schools.

LAST MEETING: Western Illinois placed three players in double figures led by Zane Teilane's 18 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks as the Westerwinds defeated Valparaiso 61-57 on January 16, 2006 in Macomb, Ill. Tamra Braun paced the Crusaders with 20 points and seven rebounds. Samantha Greer scored 15 points for Western Illinois while Rachel Reed added 13 more.

The top two teams in the Mid-Continent Conference meet at the ARC on Saturday afternoon with first place on the line as Western Illinois travels to Valparaiso. The Westerwinds currently hold a one game lead over the Crusaders in the league standings. Valpo is coming off of a 91-44 win over Centenary on Monday night.

A WINNING TRADITION: Valpo has assured itself of yet another .500 season this year. With one more victory, the Crusaders will record their 15th winning season in the last 16 years. Another win would also mean that Valpo is assured of its 13th winning Mid-Con season in the 14 years of conference play.

VALPO-WESTERN MEANS DON'T LEAVE EARLY: Valparaiso and Western Illinois have a history of close contests over recent years. In 11 of the last 12 games, the contest has been decided by seven points or less or has gone to overtime.

CRUSADERS COULDN'T MISS AGAINST THE LADIES: Valparaiso shot 62.7% from the field for the game against Centenary on Monday night, the second best shooting night in school history. The Crusaders made 18-of-24 (75%) in the first half. The school record for a game is 72.5% at Western Illinois in 1997.

SUPER SUBS: Valparaiso's bench saw significant playing time against Centenary on Monday. The Crusader reserves accounted for 48 points in the game, with Sanna Helenius (nine points) and Agnieszka Kulaga (eight points) each posting career highs. Sarah Ott also tied her career high with six points.

ON RECORD SHOOTING PACE: The Crusaders three-point shooting is currently on pace to set a new mark for a season. Valpo is shooting 39.9% from beyond the arc, nearly 3% better than the current school record. The 1997-1998 team finished the season shooting 37.1% from long range.

BRAUN MAKES AND MAKES AGAIN: Tamra Braun is currently ranked 24th in the nation in field goal shooting connecting on 56.4% of her attempts. The junior center has been even better in Mid-Continent Conference play, making 63.2% of her shots against league foes.

DOWN THE ROAD: Valparaiso has a week off before closing out the home portion of the 2005-2006 schedule at the Athletics-Recreation Center next Saturday, February 18 against Chicago State. Tip-off is set for 2:05 p.m. with Valpo's four seniors (three players and one manager) being honored just prior to the contest. The Crusaders then will head out on the road for the final three games of the regular season, beginning with a trip to Indianapolis, Ind. on Monday, February 20. Tip-off against the Jaguars of IUPUI is set for 6 p.m. CST.

WESTERN ILLINOIS NOTES: Western Illinois, the preseason favorite in the Mid-Continent Conference, enters the game having won two straight overall and 12 of its last 14 contests after defeating IUPUI 60-57 at home on Monday night.

The Westerwinds, currently in first place in the Mid-Con by a game over Valpo and IUPUI, are sixth in the nation allowing just 52.5 points per game. Western Illinois also is 16th in the nation allowing opponents to shoot just 35.4% from the floor.

Zane Teilane, the Mid-Con's preseason Player of the Year, leads the way for Western Illinois. The senior center is averaging a double-double, 17.4 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, this season. Her rebounding total is 20th best in Division I. In addition, Teilane is rejecting 4.1 shots per contest, fourth best in the country.

Samantha Greer is the only other Westerwind averaging in double figures, tallying 10.7 points per game. Her total is upped to 12.4 points against Mid-Con foes.