Valparaiso made 24-of-26 free throws (92.3%) on the evening, including 11-of-12 from Agnieszka Kulaga (Tarnow, Poland/I Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace H.S.), and the Crusaders snapped their two-game losing skid with a 75-65 victory over Detroit on Thursday evening at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Valpo’s free throw shooting marked the eighth best night in school history for percentage in a game (minimum 10 attempts), just behind the 25-of-27 mark earlier this year against Butler for seventh place on the all-time charts.
“We went to the line tonight and shot well,” head coach Keith Freeman said. “That’s a big thing for us.”
The Crusaders started slowly against the Titans, falling behind 11-5 more than seven minutes into the contest. An 8-0 run put Valpo in front following a three-pointer by Kelly Peller (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton H.S.), and the Brown and Gold eventually took a 31-24 lead into intermission.
A 16-4 run early in the second half put the Crusaders up by 17, 47-30, with 15:33 to play in the game.
“I felt we created some turnovers in the first five minutes of the second half and built the lead up,” Freeman added.
Valpo’s lead would remain in double digits until a 9-2 Detroit run cut the advantage to 64-56 with 2:57 to play in the game.
Launa Hochstetler’s (Berlin, Ohio/Hiland H.S.) triple put Valpo back up 11, and Valpo went 8-of-8 from the free throw line in the final minute to secure the victory.
Kulaga led the Crusaders with 19 points and five assists while Aimee Litka (South Bend, Ind./Saint Joseph’s H.S.) added 14 points. Hochstetler had 13 points, including six of Valpo’s 11 steals. Peller scored a career-high 11 points, shooting 3-of-3 from long range.
“Kelly knocked down open shots, moved the ball, and played hard,” Freeman said.
Sandi Brown led Detroit (4-20, 1-12 Horizon) with a double-double, 27 points and 10 rebounds.
“They are a good team, a better team than when we played them at their place,” Freeman concluded. “Sandi Brown is a very good player.”
Valpo finished the game shooting 45.7% from the floor, including a 59.1% clip in the second half. The Crusaders made 9-of-16 three-pointers as well.
The Crusader defense forced 24 Titan turnovers, creating 25 points off of the miscues.
Valparaiso (12-13, 7-7) will wrap up the home portion of the regular season on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders entertain Wright State. Tip-off is set for 1:35 p.m., with Senior Day activities taking place just prior to the game. The game will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) as well as online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. The game can also be seen live online on the Horizon League Network.