Game #27: February 28, 2008, 6 p.m. CST
Valpo (12-14, 7-8 Horizon)
at Cleveland State (15-10, 9-5 Horizon)
Wolstein Center (8,500) - Cleveland, Ohio
Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: Valparaiso begins a three-game road trip to wrap up the 2007-2008 regular season on Thursday evening as the Crusaders head to Cleveland, Ohio to battle the Vikings of Cleveland State. Valpo is looking to rebound from a 75-64 defeat in its home finale last Saturday against Wright State.
On the Air: Thursday’s game against Cleveland State will be carried live online at www.sportsjuice.com. Eric Brooks and Miles Janssen will call all the action live from the Wolstein Center. All 29 regular season games will be broadcast live over the internet in addition to many games on 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 Cleveland State are meeting for the 13th time in a series that dates back to January 13, 1989. The Crusaders hold a 10-3 all-time advantage, including a 6-0 edge in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland State snapped Valpo’s six-game winning streak in the series on February 2 of this season with an 86-63 victory at the ARC. The Vikings built a 48-24 lead at intermission on the way to the victory. Kailey Klein scored 33 points for Cleveland State in the win while Launa Hochstetler led Valpo with 12 points.
Wrapping Up Wright State: The Raiders shot a blistering 70% from the floor in the first half and 58.1% for the game as Wright State defeated the Crusaders 75-64 on Saturday afternoon at the ARC. Valpo cut a 15-point second half deficit to three with just over three minutes to play, but could not get any closer. Launa Hochstetler led Valpo with 17 points and five assists and the Crusaders shot 82.9% from the free throw line, including making 25-of-27 (92.6%) in the second half. Whitney Lewis led five Raiders in double figures with 16 points.
Scouting Cleveland State: The Vikings snapped a three-game losing skid on Saturday afternoon with an 82-66 victory at Youngstown State. Prior to the losing skid, Cleveland State had won six straight and 11 of 13 games. Kailey Klein leads the Vikings offensively averaging 19.2 points per contest. She is second in the Horizon League in scoring, and also ranks fourth in free throw percentage at 84.3%, going to the line 178 times already this season. Dominique Butler adds 10.5 points and a team-leading 5.9 rebounds per game for the Vikings.
Time Change for Season Finale at Butler: Valparaiso’s season finale at Butler has been moved to 11 a.m. CST (12 p.m. Indianapolis time) on March 8. The move occurred because of the potential for Butler to host the Horizon League Men’s Championship that evening.
Valpo Bunched in Race for Seeding: The Crusaders enter the second to last weekend of Horizon League play tied with Butler for sixth and seventh place in the conference standings. The two league foes will meet on March 8 to wrap up the regular season. The top six seeds earn a first round bye, while places seven and eight host first round games. Valpo is just one-half game behind Youngstown State, the Crusaders’ foe on Saturday, for fifth place.
Shooting Percentage a Telling Tale for Crusaders: Valparaiso is 11-2 this season when shooting better from the floor than its opponents. However, when the Crusaders are outshot by their opponents, they are 1-12.
Valpo’s Free Throw Shooting Keeps Shining: Valpo made 24-of-26 free throws in the win over Detroit last Thursday evening. The 92.3% shooting is the eighth best single game performance by the Crusaders in school history as a team. Valpo then made 25-of-27 attempts (92.6%) of its tries in the second half against Wright State.
Hochstetler and Peller Becomes Thieves: Launa Hochstetler had a career-high six steals in the Crusaders’ victory over Detroit last Thursday evening. Kelly Peller then got into the act on Saturday, registering a career-best four swipes against Wright State.
Litka Moves into Eighth on Single Season Treys List: Aimee Litka is in a tie with Michelle Russell (1993-1994) for eighth place on Valpo’s single season three-point list with 57 this year. She needs eight more treys to match Suzie Hammel’s 2001-2002 mark of 65 for seventh place.
Hochstetler Dishes the Rock: Launa Hochstetler had five assists without a turnover for the Crusaders on Saturday afternoon against the Raiders. It is the 10th time this season she has had at least five helpers in a game. The junior point guard is fourth in the Horizon League averaging 3.7 assists per night, and is fifth in the league with a 1.39 assist-to-turnover ratio.
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 10th in NCAA Division I shooting 77.5% from the charity stripe. Individually, Aimee Litka is second in the Horizon League and 16th in the country shooting 86.7% from the stripe. In addition, Agnieszka Kulaga is third in the conference and 25th in the nation making 85.3% at the line.
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 85.4% (70-of-82) 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 29-of-31 tosses (93.5%) 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 9-4 at home and since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Valpo has posted a 71-20 (.780) 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.