Game #30: March 12, 2008, 7 p.m. CDT
Horizon League Quarterfinals
#6 Valpo (14-15, 9-9 Horizon)
at #3 Milwaukee (16-13, 11-7 Horizon)
Klotsche Center (5,000) - Milwaukee, Wis.
Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: Valparaiso begins the second season on Wednesday evening as the Crusaders travel to Milwaukee, Wis. to battle the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Horizon League Tournament quarterfinal play. The Crusaders enter the tournament as the sixth seed while the Panthers are the championship’s third seed.
On the Air: Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. Eric Brooks and Nick Kovatch will call all the action live from the Klotsche Center. All Horizon League Tournament action will be broadcast live over the internet in addition to the radio. In addition, the game can be viewed live online as part of the Horizon League Network at www.horizonleaguenetwork.tv.
Series Notes: Valparaiso and Milwaukee are meeting for the 10th time on the hardwood dating back to February 4, 1983. The Panthers hold a 7-2 advantage in the all-time series, including a 4-1 edge in Milwaukee, Wis. Milwaukee has won two straight meetings between the schools. This is the first meeting between the two schools in tournament play.
This Season Against the Panthers: Milwaukee won both regular season contests against Valpo this season. On January 17 at the ARC, the Panthers posted a 68-62 victory over the Crusaders, snapping Valpo’s 11-game home court win streak. Aimee Litka led Valpo with 17 points and six rebounds while Agnieszka Kulaga had 15 points, six rebounds, and five steals. Aubri Rote tallied 21 for the Panthers in the win. In the rematch in Milwaukee, the Panthers shot 51.1% from the floor on the way to a 76-70 victory over Valpo. Sarah Ott led the Crusaders with 18 points while Traci Edwards had a game-high 24 for Milwaukee.
Scouting Milwaukee: The Panthers won four of their last six games to wrap up the regular season in a tie for second place in the Horizon League standings. Milwaukee went 8-7 at home this season, including 6-3 in league play. Horizon League Player of the Year Traci Edwards leads the conference averaging 20.3 points and 9.9 rebounds per contest. Aubri Rote is the Panthers’ second leading scorer at 9.1 points per night. As a team, Milwaukee leads the Horizon League in rebounding margin at +5.4 per game.
Wrapping Up Butler: The Bulldogs held Valpo to just one field goal over a nine-minute span late in the game and defeated the Crusaders 66-58 on Saturday afternoon in Indianapolis, Ind. in the regular season finale for both schools. Valpo shot just 30.8% in the second half and 36.4% for the game after starting the contest making seven of its first nine shots. Aimee Litka led Valpo with 17 points and six rebounds while Agnieszka Kulaga had 11 points and nine boards.
Kulaga Earns Horizon League Second Team Honors: Agnieszka Kulaga became Valpo’s first All-Horizon League Team player as she garnered Second Team accolades. The junior guard leads the Crusaders in scoring and rebounding averaging 14.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per contest. She is also shooting a team-best 84.6% from the free throw line.
Tournament Success In the Past: Valparaiso is making its first voyage into the Horizon League Tournament after years of success in the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament. In 15 appearances in the Mid-Con, Valpo won two tournament titles, made three other championship appearances, and advanced to the semifinals three other times.
Valpo Nearly Matched Preseason Prediction: Valparaiso was tabbed to finish in fifth place in the Horizon League in its inaugural season according to the preseason poll conducted of the league’s head coaches, sports information directors, and selected media outlets. The Crusaders finished the season in sixth place, and entered the final game of the season with an opportunity to finish in the top-four.
Twins Match One Another: Launa Hochstetler was named the U.S. Army Horizon League Scholar-Athlete of the Week on March 4, earning the same honor her sister Leah received back on December 18. Both sisters have matched each on the court this season as well, as Launa hit a game-winning shot against Green Bay and Leah hit a winner against South Dakota State.
Ott Swats Them Away: Sarah Ott had not recorded a blocked shot during the first 26 games of the season. At Cleveland State, Ott swatted away four Viking shots to begin her run of rejections, then added another block at Youngstown State. Last Saturday she added her sixth block in the last three games at Butler.
Ott Plays Well Against Panthers: Sarah Ott will be returning to her home state of Wisconsin for the Horizon League Tournament and has already played well against Milwaukee this season. The Chippewa Falls, Wis. native averages 16.0 points per contest against the Panthers while shooting 64.7% from the floor. The redshirt-junior is 6-of-10 from three point range against Milwaukee as well.
Five Average in Double Figures Against Milwaukee: Besides Sarah Ott (16.0 ppg), four other Crusaders are scoring in double figures against Milwaukee this season: Aimee Litka (13.5 ppg), Agnieszka Kulaga (12.5 ppg), Launa Hochstetler (12.0 ppg) and Sanna Helenius (10.0 ppg).
Shooting Percentage a Telling Tale for Crusaders: Valparaiso is 13-2 this season when shooting better from the floor than its opponents. However, when the Crusaders are outshot by their opponents, they are 1-13.
Litka Moves into Eighth on Single Season Treys List: Aimee Litka has moved past Michelle Russell (1993-1994) for eighth place on Valpo’s single season three-point list with 64 this year. She needs just one more trey to match Suzie Hammel’s 2001-2002 mark of 65 for seventh place. With four more threes this season, Litka can move into the top five on the season charts.
Valpo Finally Gets to the Boards: After outrebounding just two opponents in the first 26 games of the season, the Crusaders had an advantage on the glass against both Cleveland State and Youngstown State. The Crusaders also matched Butler’s total of 37 rebounds last Saturday, marking three straight games Valpo has not been outrebounded.
Overtime Success: Valparaiso’s overtime win against Green Bay was the Crusaders’ fourth straight when playing extra sessions. The Crusaders have not dropped an overtime contest since November 21, 2005, a double-overtime affair against Bradley.
Free Throw Shooting Among Nation’s Best: Valpo is currently ranked 23rd in NCAA Division I shooting 75.8% from the charity stripe. Individually, Valpo has three of the top six free throw shooters in the Horizon League. Agnieszka Kulaga is fourth in the league and 33rd nationally shooting 84.6% from the stripe. Aimee Litka is fifth in the conference at 84.3% and Launa Hochstetler has the sixth best percentage connecting at a 82.9% rate.
Litka Tallies Double Figures: Aimee Litka has tallied double figures for Valpo in the scoring column in 26 of 29 games during the regular season for the Crusaders. The junior forward is averaging 13.7 points per game on the season and 14.3 points in Horizon League play.
Valpo’s Free Throw Shooting Shines: Valpo made 24-of-26 free throws in the win over Detroit on February 21 at the ARC. The 92.3% shooting is the eighth best single game performance by the Crusaders in school history as a team. The seventh best mark came earlier this year when Valpo was 25-of-27 (92.6%) against Butler in the conference opener on January 5.
Dialing In from Long Range: Valparaiso made 13 three-point field goals in victories against Green Bay (Jan. 19) and at UIC (Jan. 10). The 13 triples as a team are tied for sixth most in a game in school history. In addition, Valpo’s 64.7% (11-of-17) three-point shooting at Purdue on Nov. 12 was the fourth best outside shooting night ever for a Valpo team. Aimee Litka’s seven triples at Detroit (Jan. 26) tie her for fourth on the individual single game list.
Kulaga Has Triple Double: Agnieszka Kulaga had a triple-double (20 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists) in the win against Green Bay on Jan. 19. Her 12 assists are tied for third most in a game in Valpo history.
Kulaga Eighth in Single Season Scoring: Agnieszka Kulaga’s 427 points this season rank her eighth on Valpo’s single season scoring list. She is 16 shy of Lyn Swanson (1985-1986) for seventh place all-time.
Kulaga and Litka Rank 2-3 in Single Season Free Throw Shooting: Agnieszka Kulaga’s 84.6% shooting at the free throw line currently ranks second on Valpo’s single season list behind Mo Drabicki’s 85.1% shooting during the 1997-1998 season. Aimee Litka currently ranks third on the same list at 84.3% while Launa Hochstetler can move into fourth place on the single season charts with five more attempts. Hochstetler is currently shooting 82.9% at the line.
Valpo on Record Setting Pace at the Line as a Team: Valparaiso is currently shooting 75.8% from the free throw line as a team, the best ever for a single season. The 1987-1988 squad currently holds the record at 74.8% for the year.
For Three: Valpo has made 210 three-point field goals this season, tied for second most in school history. The school record is 224 set during the 1991-1992 season.
Hochstetler Cracks Career Assist Charts: Launa Hochstetler has moved into the top-20 on Valpo’s career assist list. The junior is currently tied for 14th with Stephanie Greer (1987-1991) with 224 helpers. With four more assists, she will tie Lina Mascarenas (1988-1992) and Betsy Rietema (2003-2007) for 12th all-time wearing the Brown and Gold.
Kulaga Earns Three League Honors: Agnieszka Kulaga earned her third Horizon League Player of the Week honor on January 21 after averaging 17.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 7.0 assists in two games. Kulaga first earned the award on December 10 after turning in a then career-best 26 points against North Texas in a Crusader victory. She then earned the honor again on January 7 after pouring in a career-high 29 points while adding six steals, six rebounds, and four steals in a victory over Butler.
Making Free Throws in Crunch Time: With the game on the line in the closing minutes, Valparaiso has been solid from the free throw stripe this season. Valpo is shooting 86.0% (74-of-86) as a team from the charity stripe in the game’s final two minutes. Agnieszka Kulaga has been virtually automatic in pressure situations, connecting on 33-of-35 tosses (94.3%) with the clock winding down. She proved her ability in the clutch against Green Bay, sinking three free throws with 0.2 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime.
Kulaga Named Academic All-District: Agnieszka Kulaga has been named to ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V Second Team. The honor is voted upon by members of CoSIDA. In the classroom, Kulaga has excelled, posting a 3.78 cumulative grade point average while majoring in international business.
Home Sweet Home: Valpo has had constant success at the ARC over the past seven years. This season the Crusaders are 9-4 at home and since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Valpo has posted a 71-20 (.780) record at the ARC.
Valpo Adds Two for Next Year’s Class: Head coach Keith Freeman has signed two players to National Letters of Intent. Lauren Kenney is a 6’0” forward from Moorsville, Ind. who is currently playing at Lincoln Trail College. Sylwia Zabielewicz is a 6’6” center from Warsaw, Poland who is currently playing at Midland College. Both players will have two years of eligibility remaining.