Valpo Hits the Road Again, Travels to Akron Wednesday Night
Monday, November 20, 2006
Game #4: Wednesday, November 22, 6 p.m. CST
Valpo (1-2, 0-0 Mid-Con) at Akron (1-2, 0-0 MAC)
James A. Rhodes Arena (5,500) - Akron, Ohio

Coming Up in Crusader Hoops:
Valparaiso plays its final game before the Thanksgiving holiday on Wednesday evening as the Crusaders head to Akron, Ohio to battle the Zips of Akron. The Brown and Gold is looking for its second straight victory, and first of the year away from the Athletics-Recreation Center.

On the Air: Wednesday's game at Akron will be carried live by WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at The student-run radio station plans on carrying all Crusader women's basketball games this season live both over the air and online. Ron Castor and Matt Engelbrecht will call all the action live from James A. Rhodes Arena.

Series Notes: Valparaiso and Akron are renewing a rivalry that dates back to the days of the North Star Conference when the two schools were league foes. The Crusaders hold an 8-4 advantage all-time between the two schools in a series that began during the 1988-1989 season. The Zips won the last meeting, 71-68, at Akron on December 1, 1994. Valpo holds a 3-2 lead in the series in Akron.

Wrapping Up Northern Arizona: Valparaiso got 21 points from Betsy Rietema and 15 more from Tamra Braun as the Crusaders picked up their first victory of the 2006-2007 season on Friday night, defeating Northern Arizona 62-56 at the ARC. Rietema also had a team-high eight rebounds. The Crusaders shot 55% from the field in the second half to overcome 20 turnovers in the contest. Northern Arizona held a lead most of the first half before Valpo's defense held the Lumberjacks without a field goal for the final 7:13 of the stanza while going on a 12-0 run to take a 26-18 lead into the break.

Scouting Akron: The Zips are coming off of their first victory of the season on Saturday evening, defeating Binghamton 55-44 at the Florida Atlantic Tip-off Classic. The contest with the Crusaders will be the home opener for Akron after spending the first two weeks of the season away from James A. Rhodes Arena. Sarah Tokodi paces three Zips in double figures with her 16.3 points per outing. She is shooting 55.2% from the floor and scored 24 points against Florida Atlantic. Niki McCoy adds 15.3 points per night while Jessie Crooks has tallied 11.3 per game.

Rietema Scores Big Against Northern Arizona: Betsy Rietema scored when Valpo needed it against Northern Arizona. The senior had 17 of her game-high 21 points in the second half. Rietema had tallied 22 points in the first two games combined.

Braun Starts Scoring Too: Tamra Braun had just six points in the first two games of the season, but registered her 42nd double figure scoring game with 15 points against Northern Arizona.

Kulaga Dishes the Rock: Agnieszka Kulaga came off of the bench to register a career-high four assists for the Brown and Gold in the win against the Lumberjacks on Friday. As a freshman last season, Kulaga had nine assists on the year. This year she has six through three games.

Getting to the Free Throw Line: Valpo has done a solid job of getting to the free throw line in the early stages of the 2006-2007 campaign. The Crusaders have been to the charity stripe 73 times in three games (24.3 times per game). Last season Valpo averaged 16.3 trips to the line per game.

Valpo Vs. The MAC: Valparaiso has faced 10 of the current 12 members of the Mid-American Conference all-time. Among all the MAC schools, Valpo's 8-4 mark against Akron is the Crusaders' best. The only two MAC schools Valpo has never faced are Ohio and Toledo. Valpo also has MAC foes Ball State and Central Michigan on the schedule this season.

Home Sweet Home: Valparaiso's victory to open the home campaign against Northern Arizona improved the Brown and Gold's record to 176-98 (.642) all-time at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Since the 2001-2002 season, Valpo has posted a 54-13 (.806) mark at the ARC.

Twins Return Home: The Hochstetler twins have a homecoming of sorts when Valpo faces Akron. Launa and Leah are from nearby Berlin, Ohio, just an hour from Akron.

Balanced Minutes: Coach Keith Freeman has spread the minutes out for the Crusaders during the first three games. Every player has already seen action, and six players are averaging between 12 and 23 minutes a game. Ten players are seeing eight or more minutes of playing time per night. Betsy Rietema (31.0 mpg) and Tamra Braun (29.7 mpg) are the only Crusaders averaging more than 23 minutes per night.

Valpo Picked Second in Mid-Con Race: Valparaiso had been tabbed to finish in second place in the Mid-Continent Conference this season according to the preseason poll conducted of the league's head coaches, sports information directors, and selected media outlets. The Crusaders trailed only Oral Roberts in the balloting. Ironically, Valpo and the Golden Eagles will open Mid-Con play against each other on January 6.

Three Crusaders Tabbed to League's Preseason Teams: Valparaiso had three Crusaders selected to the Mid-Continent Conference's Preseason All-Conference Teams. Tamra Braun and Betsy Rietema were named to the First Team while Carrie Myers was selected to the Second Team. Braun averaged 12.0 points and a team-high 8.3 boards per game last season on her way to First Team All Mid-Con honors. Rietema, a Second Team All Mid-Con selection last year, led Valpo with 13.0 points per game while grabbing 6.0 rebounds per night. Myers earned Honorable Mention accolades last season posting 10.6 points per game while shooting 40.2% from three-point range.

Rietema Moves Into 14th in School History in Scoring: Betsy Rietema has moved into 14th all-time in school history in scoring. The senior forward has tallied 898 moving past Heidi Diefenthaler (1992-1996). Rietema now needs just 22 points to match Sarah Schmoyer (1992-1996) for 13th all-time in scoring.

Braun Among Top-20 in Scoring Also: Senior Tamra Braun moved into the top-20 on Valpo's career scoring list with 15 points against Northern Arizona. The Valpo center currently has scored 824 points over her career passing current Crusader graduate assistant Jamie Gutowski (2002-2006) for 20th place all-time. She now needs just six more points to move into 19th place (Jill Otto, 1985-1989) and 16 points for 18th place (Mo Drabicki, 1994-1998).

Freeman Winningest Coach in Mid-Con History: Head coach Keith Freeman's 210 victories are not only most in Valpo history, but also rank top in Mid-Continent Conference history for career wins.

Braun Continues to Move Up Rebounding Charts: Tamra Braun is currently ninth all-time in school history with 622 career rebounds. The senior center is 20 shy of Carie Wickham's (1996-2001) eighth place total of 642 boards.

Rietema On the Verge of Rebounding Charts: Betsy Rietema needs just seven more boards to move into a tie for 20th place on Valparaiso's career rebounding list. The senior forward has brought down 395 rebounds to date. Darcie Miller (1992-1996) currently holds the 20th spot all-time in a Crusader uniform.

Braun Also Swats Shots: Tamra Braun also ranks second all-time with 146 career blocked shots. She trails Michelle Mader's (1988-1992) school record by 20 rejections.

Braun Among Mid-Con Best in Blocks: Tamra Braun's 146 career blocks also are seventh best in Mid-Continent Conference history. Her three rejections against Northern Arizona moved her past Lauren Powers (UMKC, 1997-2001) in the league's record book. Next up for the senior is Nicole Blakeslee (Buffalo, 1994-1998) who is sixth with 159 swats.

Myers Deadly from Long Range: Carrie Myers enters play in seventh place on the career three-point list with 135 triples. The senior is five triples behind Heidi Diefenthaler (1992-1996) for the sixth spot all-time and trails Megan Newcomer (1996-2000) by 10 for fifth place in Valpo laurels.

Rietema Likes Freebies: Betsy Rietema's 250 career free throws are fifth most in school history. She trails Paige Freeman (1985-1989) by 23 for fourth place in the all-time record book.

Freeman Adds Five Hoosiers for 2007-2008: Keith Freeman has signed five Indiana prep players to National Letters of Intent for the 2007-2008 season. Joining the Crusader roster next year are forward LaTice Jones (Gary, Ind./Roosevelt H.S.), guard Rashida Ray (Fort Wayne, Ind./Harding H.S.), guard Stephanie Thomas (Avon, Ind./Avon H.S.), Jasmine Ussery (Newburg, Ind./Castle H.S.), and Ashley Varner (South Bend, Ind./Washington H.S.).