Game #26: February 23, 2008, 1:35 p.m. CST
Wright State (11-13, 8-5 Horizon)
at Valpo (12-13, 7-7 Horizon)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: Valparaiso wraps up the home portion of the 2007-2008 schedule on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders host Wright State on Senior Day at the ARC. Valpo is looking to continue its climb up the Horizon League standings in hopes of a first round bye and a home game in the quarterfinals of the league tournament.
On the Air: Saturday’s game against Wright State will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) as well as online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. Nick Kovatch and Matt Engelbrecht 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. In addition, the game can be viewed live online as part of the Horizon League Network at www.horizonleaguenetwork.tv.
Series Notes: Valparaiso and Wright State are meeting for the 11th time in a series that dates back to February 5, 1990. The Crusaders and Raiders had not played one another in nearly 14 years prior to the first contest this season, a 51-50 Wright State win in Dayton, Ohio on January 24. Valpo holds a 8-2 advantage all-time between the two schools and are a perfect 5-0 at the ARC against the Raiders.
Wrapping Up Detroit: Valparaiso shot 92.3% (24-of-26) from the free throw line, including 11-of-12 by Agnieszka Kulaga, on the way to a 75-65 victory over the Titans at the ARC on Thursday night. A 16-4 run early in the second half pushed a seven-point halftime advantage to 17, and the Crusaders never let the lead get below eight the rest of the way. Kulaga led the Crusaders with 19 points, six rebounds, and five assists while Aimee Litka added 14 points. Launa Hochstetler had 13 points and six steals while Kelly Peller added a career-high 11 points.
Scouting Wright State: The Raiders enter the game having won four of their last five games following a 65-60 victory at Butler on Thursday evening. Wright State enters the game tied for third place in the tight Horizon League standings. Sheylani Peddy leads the Raiders in scoring, averaging 15.4 points per game, and is fourth in the league in the same category. The freshman also leads the conference in steals with 3.18 per contest. Whitney Lewis scores 11.8 points per night, including a team-high 14 against Valpo in the first meeting. LaShawna Thomas adds 11.2 points for the Raiders, and had 20 against Butler.
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.
Senior Day Set for Saturday: The Crusaders will recognize their two seniors, Sanna Helenius and manager Allison Wunsch, prior to the contest with the Raiders on Saturday. Both have been with the Valpo program for the last three years.
Valpo Looking for 10th Home Victory: Valparaiso enters the contest with Wright State with a 9-3 record at the ARC this season. A win against the Raiders in the season’s home finale would give the Crusaders 10 victories at home for fifth time in the last seven years. It would also be the third straight season with 10 plus victories.
Valpo’s Free Throw Shooting Shines Again: Valpo made 24-of-26 free throws in the win over Detroit on Thursday evening. 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.
Hochstetler Becomes a Thief: Launa Hochstetler had a career-high six steals in the Crusaders’ victory over Detroit. Valpo had 11 steals against the Titans while forcing 24 turnovers.
Litka Moves into Eighth on Single Season Treys List: Aimee Litka drained two more three-pointers against Detroit, and is in a tie with Michelle Russell (1993-1994) for eighth place on Valpo’s single season list with 57 this year. She needs eight more treys to match Suzie Hammel’s 2001-2002 mark of 65 for seventh place.
Peller Tallies Career High: Kelly Peller had a career-high 11 points against Detroit, topping her previous best mark of 10 against Cleveland State, set earlier this season.
From Downtown: Valpo ranks eighth nationally making 7.6 three-pointers per game. Aimee Litka is hitting 2.3 per night, ranking 62nd in all of Division I.
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 11th in NCAA Division I shooting 77.0% from the charity stripe. Individually, Agnieszka Kulaga is 22nd in the country from the line, connecting on 86.1% of her tries. Aimee Litka is third in the Horizon League shooting 85.9% from the stripe, but is several attempts shy of being eligible for the national leaders.
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 84.8% (67-of-79) 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 9-3 at home and since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Valpo has posted a 71-19 (.789) 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.