Game #5: December 6, 2008, 5 p.m. CST
Valparaiso (3-1, 0-0 Horizon)
at North Texas (3-3, 0-0 Sun Belt)
The Super Pit (10,032) - Denton, Texas
Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: Coming off it its first tournament championship in 23 seasons, Valparaiso will wrap up its four-game road trip on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders head to the Lone Star State to battle the Mean Green of North Texas. Valpo is 3-1 for the first time since 1983-1984 and is looking to move to 4-1 for just the second time ever.
On the Air: Saturday’s game against North Texas will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpoathletics.com. Dave Schroeder and Michelle Niehaus will call all the action live from The Super Pit.
Series Notes: Valparaiso and North Texas are meeting for just the second time. Last year, in the first meeting between the two schools, Valpo posted a 73-61 win over the Mean Green on December 8, 2007 at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Agnieszka Kulaga scored 26 points and had eight rebounds to lead the Crusaders while Jo Hall led North Texas with 16 points and eight boards.
Wrapping Up Florida State: Valparaiso led from the opening tip, building a lead as big as 19 points, then held on to defeat the Seminoles 80-74 last Saturday evening in the championship game of the Coors Rocky Mountain Invitational. The Crusaders went 35-of-42 from the free throw line, including a school record 13-for-13 performance by Lauren Kenney. Agnieszka Kulaga led the Crusaders with 22 points while Aimee Litka added 20 as Valpo defeated an ACC school for the second time in school history. Mara Freshour led five Seminoles in double figures with 16 points.
Scouting North Texas: The Mean Green enter the weekend 3-3 overall after dropping back-to-back contests, including an 80-66 loss to Houston on Tuesday night. Amber Jackson and Brittney James lead North Texas in scoring averaging 15.2 points per game while Jackson also hauls down 11.2 rebounds per night. Jo Hall adds 11.0 points and Tricia Lee chips in 10.0 for North Texas, which is averaging 72.7 points per game as a team. The Mean Green are shooting 42.6% from the floor and 69.1% from the free throw line this season. This will be just the second home game of the season for North Texas, which was picked to finish third in the West Division of the Sun Belt Conference.
Kulaga Earns Two Honors: Agnieszka Kulaga was named the Horizon League’s Player of the Week as well as the Most Valuable Player at the Coors Rocky Mountain Invitational for her stellar play last week. The senior guard averaged 22 points per game and shot 58.3% for the week in three games while garnering her fourth career conference honor. She scored 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor in the first game of the tournament against Colorado State, then added 22 points, including an 11-of-12 performance from the free throw line, in the championship against Florida State.
Litka Also Named to All-Tournament Team: Aimee Litka also was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Coors Rocky Mountain Invitational. She averaged 17 points and five rebounds per game in the event, including a 20-point effort in the championship against Florida State.
Valpo Captures Division I Tournament Title For First Time: Valpo’s win at the Coors Rocky Mountain Invitational was the first tournament title for the Brown and Gold in the Division I era. The last time the Crusaders captured a tourney title was at the Lady Redmen Classic hosted by Carthage in the 1985-1986 season as Valpo downed Lakeland, Carthage, and Clarke.
Crusaders Start 3-1 for Just the Third Time Ever: The Crusaders have started a season 3-1 for the first time under head coach Keith Freeman and just the third time in program history. A win against North Texas would make the Crusaders 4-1 for just the second time ever, matching the mark set by the 1974-1975 team that was coached by Ruth Brown.
Moving Up the RPI: As of Thursday morning, December 4, Valparaiso had moved into the top-40 of the RPI according to collegerpi.com. The Crusaders checked in 37th overall among the 341 Division I programs and the Horizon League ranks ninth out of 31 conferences.
Kulaga Goes for 20 Over and Over: Agnieszka Kulaga leads the Horizon League in scoring this season, averaging 22.0 points per game. The senior guard has posted 20 or more points in all four games this season, including a season-high 24-point effort at Central Michigan. For her career now, Kulaga has tallied 20 points in 10 different games for the Brown and Gold.
Kenney Sets School Record for Free Throws: Lauren Kenney’s 13-for-13 free throw performance against Florida State in the championship is the best single game performance in school history. The junior bettered Lisa Diefenthaler’s 1994 mark of 12-for-12 set against Western Illinois. Debbie Bolen made all 11 of her tosses in 1991 while three others have gone 10-for-10 in a game. Ironically, Kenney entered the game having gone just 5-for-12 on the season prior to the game.
More Solid Free Throw Shooting: In addition to Kenney’s efforts at the line, Agnieszka Kulaga drained 11-of-12 from the charity stripe in the same game. As a team, Valpo went 35-of-42 from the line, with the 35 makes ranking second all-time in school history. The 42 attempts were tied for fifth most ever in a game, while Kenney’s 13 makes tie for fifth on the individual charts.
Litka Continues to Cause Double Trouble: Aimee Litka continues to pour in double figure scoring numbers on a nightly basis. The senior forward had 20 points against Florida State and has now tallied double digits in 31 of her last 34 games, including all four contests this year. Litka is fourth in the Horizon League in scoring, averaging 17.0 points per game this season.
Farris Gets to the Boards: Whitney Farris has come off of the bench to help Valpo’s rebounding cause this season. The junior is averaging 5.5 boards per contest in 25.8 minutes of action, including grabbing a season-high nine at Central Michigan. Farris has helped Valpo outrebound three of its first four opponents after the Crusaders outboarded just four teams all of last year.
Hochstetler Perfect From the Line: Launa Hochstetler is a perfect 14-for-14 from the free throw line this season. The senior has made at least two shots from the charity stripe each game this year.
Freeman Earns Milestone Win: Head coach Keith Freeman’s victory against Florida State was the 375th of his career coaching women’s basketball. In his 21st season overall, his next milestone on tap is 250 victories at Valpo. He needs just four more wins to reach the Valpo mark, where he has been coaching the last 15 years.
Valpo Continues to Topple Major Conferences: The win against Florida State last Saturday was Valpo’s second all-time against a member of the ACC, having also defeated Wake Forest back in 2001, while Friday’s win against Colorado State was the first ever against a team from the Mountain West Conference. Since 2001-2002, Valpo has also downed teams from the Western Athletic Conference (Fresno State), Pac-10 Conference (Washington State), and Big 10 Conference (Michigan and Northwestern).
Hochstetler Ranks Among Career Assist Leaders: Launa Hochstetler continues to climb Valpo’s career assist list. With four assists against Florida State, the senior moved within two helpers of 10th place all-time wearing the Brown and Gold. She now is in 11th place with 245 assists, just behind Megan Newcomer (1996-2000) for a spot in the top-10 on the all-time list. She is 12 assists shy of moving into ninth place all-time at Valpo, a spot currently held by Kathryn Knoester (2000-2004) with 257 assists.
Kulaga Joins Hochstetler on Assist List: With one assist against Florida State, Agnieszka Kulaga moved past Sheila Kalas (1982-1985) into 19th place on Valpo’s career assist list. Kulaga has 198 career assists, and trails Amy Cole (1987-1991) and Heidi Diefenthaler (1992-1996) by four for 17th place all-time in a Crusader uniform.
Litka Moves Into Top-10 All-Time in Triples: Aimee Litka made four three-pointers against Florida State to move into the top-10 in school history. The senior has 120 career triples, passing Michelle Russell (1991-1994), and Amy Cole (1987-1991) to move into ninth place on the all-time list. Litka needs 12 more treys to match Kathryn Knoester’s (2000-2004) eighth place mark of 132 threes.
Kulaga Earns Preseason Honors: Agnieszka Kulaga was named to the Preseason All-Horizon League Second Team after averaging 14.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game last year for the Crusaders. She had a triple-double last season and earned Second Team All-League honors as a junior.
Crusaders Look to “Pack the ARC” against Notre Dame: Valpo’s game next Saturday afternoon (Dec. 13) against Notre Dame has been selected as Valpo’s “Pack the House Challenge” game, an ongoing nationwide women's basketball attendance competition taking place throughout the season. Nearly 300 of the nation's Division I women's basketball programs signed up to participate in the competition, including nine Horizon League. The premise for each participating institution - select a game/date at which an attempt is made to break your single-game all-time or 2007-08 season record. Based on the final results nationwide, 32 conference champions and one overall national champion will be determined by the NCAA.
Valpo Tabbed Sixth in Horizon League: The Crusaders were picked to finish in sixth place this season in the Horizon League according to the conference’s preseason poll. Last year the Crusaders finished 14-16 overall and 9-9 in their inaugural league campaign to finish sixth. Green Bay was selected to win the Horizon League title for the 11th consecutive season.
Home Sweet Home: Valpo has had constant success at the ARC over the past seven years. Last season the Crusaders were 9-4 at home and are already 1-0 this year. Since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Valpo has posted a 72-20 (.783) record at the ARC.
Valpo Adds Two for Next Year’s Class: Head coach Keith Freeman has signed two players to National Letters of Intent for the 2009-2010 season. Skyler Gick is a 5’7” guard from Otterbein, Ind. who averaged 15.1 points per game as a junior at Benton Central High School. Laura Richards is a 5’9” guard from Connersville, Ind and averaged 16.0 points an 5.2 rebounds per game a year ago at Connersville High School.