Game #21: February 7, 2008, 7:05 p.m. CST
Loyola (Chicago) (4-16, 2-7 Horizon)
at Valpo (9-11, 4-5 Horizon)
Athletic-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: Valparaiso will open the second half of Horizon League competition on Thursday evening as the Crusaders host Loyola in the third game of their current four-game homestand. Valpo is looking to snap its two-game losing skid following an 86-63 loss to Cleveland State on Saturday afternoon.
On the Air: Thursday’s game against Loyola will be carried live on online at www.sportsjuice.com. Adam Tein and Dave Schroeder will call all the action live from the ARC. All 29 regular season games will be broadcast live over the internet in addition to many games on the radio. The game will also be broadcast live on Lakeshore Public Television and the Horizon League Network. Joe Arrendondo and Dick Harlan will call all of the action on television.
Series Notes: Valparaiso and Loyola are meeting for the 13th time in a series that dates back to February 22, 1994. The Crusaders had won the first 11 meetings between the two schools before the Ramblers broke through earlier this season with a 64-60 victory on January 12, 2008 in Chicago. Valpo is 5-0 all-time against the Ramblers at the ARC, but have not hosted Loyola since an 83-50 victory on December 18, 2005.
Wrapping Up Cleveland State: The Vikings jumped out to a 13-2 lead less than five minutes into the game and never looked back as Cleveland State defeated the Crusaders 86-63 on Saturday afternoon at the ARC. Kailey Klein scored 33 points, going 12-of-16 from the floor, and the Vikings shot 57.1% from the field on the afternoon. Launa Hochstetler led Valpo with 12 points while Aimee Litka added 11 and Kelly Peller had a career-high 10 points for the Brown and Gold.
Scouting Loyola: The Ramblers are still looking for their first road victory of the season but split a pair of Horizon League contests last weekend. The Ramblers downed Detroit 79-70 on Thursday before falling at home to Wright State 56-49 on Saturday afternoon. Elyse VanBogaert leads Loyola in scoring, averaging 12.4 points per game and is shooting 54.5% from the floor. Maggie McCloskey adds 11.9 points per game, and is fifth in the nation making 3.1 three-pointers per game. She also ranks 10th in the country shooting 44.2% from beyond the arc. Keisha Collins also is scoring in double figures for the Ramblers, tallying 10.3 points per night, but is scoring 11.9 in league play.
Peller Steps Up Offensively: Kelly Peller has stepped up her offensive production over the last two games. The sophomore forward tallied nine points against Youngstown State, then a career high. She the bettered the mark Saturday against Cleveland State, finishing in double figures for the first time with 10 points.
From Downtown: Valpo ranks fifth nationally making 7.9 three-pointers per game. Aimee Litka is hitting 2.5 per night, ranking 42nd in all of Division I. As a team, the Crusaders are hitting 36.6% from beyond the arc, ranking 37th in the nation, while Litka is 29th individually connecting at 41.2%.
Hochstetler Starts the Offense: Launa Hochstetler has been solid at the point for the Crusaders over the last five games. She has recorded 24 assists while committing just eight turnovers over the span, including a career-high nine helpers against Youngstown State last Thursday night.
Litka Makes and Makes in Conference Play: Aimee Litka has consistently made shots during the first half of Horizon League play. The junior is shooting 43.3% from three-point range and 89.3% from the free throw stripe against conference foes.
Emig Getting to the Boards: Redshirt-freshman Katie Emig has been getting to the glass more the last three games. She is averaging 5.7 rebounds per contest over the span, including a career-best nine boards against Detroit.
Litka a Model of Consistency: Aimee Litka can be counted on for scoring nearly every night. The junior has tallied double figures in 18 of the 20 games this season, and has had at least 10 points in every home game. She currently is averaging 16.7 points per game in Horizon League play, and 14.6 points overall this year.
Conference Race Bunched Midway Through: Just two games separate third place from eighth place in the Horizon League standings at the midway point of the campaign. The top six seeds get a first round bye, and the top four seeds host quarterfinal games, making each of the final nine games of the conference slate important. Currently, Valpo is in a tie for sixth place, holding a tie-breaker over Butler and UIC.
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 15th in NCAA Division I shooting 76.8% from the charity stripe. Individually, Agnieszka Kulaga is 21st in the country from the line, connecting on 87.0% of her tries.
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 84.1% (53-of-63) 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 24-of-25 tosses (96.0%) 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.
Home Sweet Home: Valpo has had constant success at the ARC over the past seven years. This season the Crusaders are 6-3 at home and since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Valpo has posted a 68-19 (.782) record at the ARC.
Hochstetler Named Scholar-Athlete of the Week: Leah Hochstetler was the Horizon League Scholar-Athlete of the Week on December 18. The junior scored all five of her points in the final minute, including the game-winning three-pointer against South Dakota State. In the classroom, Hochstetler has a 3.87 grade point average in nursing.
Valpo Picked Fifth in Horizon League Race: Valparaiso has been 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. Milwaukee was picked to win the league followed by nine-time defending regular season champion Green Bay.
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.