Agnieszka Kulaga (Tarnow, Poland, I Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace H.S.) posted a career-high in scoring and rebounding while tying her career-best in assists as Valparaiso won its third straight game defeating North Texas 73-61 on Saturday afternoon at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Kulaga scored 25 points, including 16 in the second half, while grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out five assists. The junior also added a pair of steals and shot 10-of-15 from the floor on the afternoon.
“Aggie had moments tonight showing how moving without the basketball makes her hard to guard,” head coach Keith Freeman said. “When she does this, she adds another dimension to her game.”
Valpo jumped out quickly, using a 12-2 run midway through the first half to build a 24-13 lead. Aimee Litka (South Bend, Ind./Saint Joseph’s H.S.) scored five points during the run and had 10 points in the first 10 minutes of the contest.
The Crusaders maintained a nine to 13 point advantage throughout the remainder of the half, and took a 40-27 lead into the break. Valpo made 7-of-10 triples in the opening 20 minutes while the Mean Green were just 1-of-9 behind the arc in the first half.
Kulaga scored the first six points out of the locker room and eventually extended the lead to 22, 53-31, with 15:41 to play.
“I thought we did a good job in the first half and came out the second half doing a nice job strengthening the advantage over the first two minutes or so,” Freeman added.
Holding an 18-point advantage with 7:24 to play, North Texas went on a 13-1 run, holding the Crusaders without a field goal for nearly seven minutes while slicing the lead to 65-59. Launa Hochstetler (Berlin, Ohio/Hiland H.S.) drained a three with two minutes to go to put Valpo back up nine and the Crusaders made free throws down the stretch. Hochstetler had six assists with just two turnovers on the afternoon as well.
“Once the lead got down to six, we executed and utilized the clock well the final two minutes of the game,” Freeman said.
Litka scored 15 points and had six rebounds while Sarah Ott (Chippewa Falls, Wis./Chippewa Falls H.S.) also added 11 points, 10 of which came in the first half for the Crusaders.
Jo Hall led North Texas (5-6) with 16 points and eight rebounds while Amber Jackson added 14 points. The duo combined to shoot 15-of-22 from the floor for the Mean Green.
Valpo finished the game shooting 55.6% from long range (10-of-18) while holding North Texas to just 22.2%. Offensive rebounds helped North Texas during their comeback, though, as 15 offensive boards in the game led to 16 second chance points.
Valparaiso (3-5) has now won eight straight games at the ARC dating back to last season.
The Crusaders will return to action on Wednesday evening, traveling to South Bend, Ind. to battle nationally-ranked Notre Dame. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. CST at the Joyce Center with all the action carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.