Game #9: December 29, 2008, 4 p.m. CST
Valparaiso (4-4, 0-0 Horizon)
vs. La Salle (7-5, 0-0 Atlantic 10)
Stabler Arena (5,600) - Bethlehem, Pa.
Christmas City Classic - 1st Round
Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: After taking eight
days off for the Christmas holiday, the Valparaiso University Crusaders
will return to the hardwood on Monday as the Brown and Gold battle La
Salle in the opening round of the Christmas City Classic hosted by
Lehigh. The Crusaders are looking to move over the .500 and advance to
the championship game of a tournament for the second time this year.
The host Mountain Hawks will face North Florida in the second game of
On the Air: Monday’s game against La Salle can be
heard live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at
www.valpoathletics.com. Adam Tein and Danny Robertson will call all of
the action live from Stabler Arena.
Series Notes: Valparaiso and La Salle are
meeting for just the second time ever and the first time on a neutral
court. The only other contest between the Crusaders and Explorers
resulted in a Valpo victory 95-90 in overtime on January 3, 1992 at the
Athletics-Recreation Center in Valparaiso.
Wrapping Up South Dakota State: The Crusaders played
their third straight game against a top-25 foe last Sunday afternoon,
and jumped out to an early lead only to see the Jackrabbits rally and
defeat Valparaiso 74-58. A late first half run put South Dakota State
on top by eight at intermission, and after the Crusaders tied the game
early in the second half, the Jackrabbits held Valpo without a field
goal for 11 minutes to help pick up the victory. Launa Hochstetler led
the Crusaders with a career-high 24 points while Lauren Kenney added 10
points and seven rebounds. Stacie Oistad led South Dakota State with
15 points on the afternoon.
Scouting La Salle: The Explorers won three straight
games to close out the pre-holiday schedule, including a 63-47 victory
over Rider a week ago Sunday in Philadelphia. Morgan Robertson leads
La Salle scoring 13.6 points per game and is also grabbing 9.4 boards
per night. Margaret Elderton adds 11.1 points per contest, including a
19-point effort against Rider. Ashley Gale is the third Explorer
averaging in double figures, scoring 10.3 points per contest. As a
team, La Salle is shooting 73.3% from the free throw line and is +1.6
in turnover margin.
Crusaders Seek Second Tournament Title: After
capturing their first in-season tournament title since 1985-1986, the
Crusaders will look to make it two tournament crowns in the same season
at the Christmas City Classic. Valpo has never won two in-season
tournaments in the same season, last playing two during the 2004-2005
season with the Subway Classic in Minneapolis, Minn. and the Blue Sky
Classic in Hanover, N.H.
Valpo and the RPI: Even with a 4-4 record, Valparaiso
ranks 50th overall in RPI among the 341 Division I programs according
to collegerpi.com while the Horizon League ranked 11th out of 31
conferences. The Crusaders’ strength of schedule ranked 11th in the
country to date as well through games of December 26.
Four Among League’s Leading Scorers: Valparaiso
boasts four of the Horizon League’s top-15 scorers through the
Christmas holiday. Agnieszka Kulaga is third in the conference scoring
17.4 points per night while Aimee Litka ranks ninth pouring in 13.1
points per game. Lauren Kenney adds 12.4 points per contest, 11th best
in the conference while Launa Hochstetler’s 11.4 points place her
15th. As a team, Valpo is averaging 68.0 points per game, second in
the Horizon League.
Hochstetler Has Career Effort: Launa Hochstetler
poured in 20 of her career-high 24 points in the second half for the
Crusaders at South Dakota State. The senior guard also brought down a
season-high five rebounds. Her previous high scoring output came as a
sophomore with 21 points against Western Illinois.
Valpo vs. the Top-25: When the Crusaders battled South
Dakota State, it marked the first time ever the Crusaders have played
three top-25 teams in the same season. The only other time Valpo
battled top-25 teams in back-to-back contests was to open the 2001-2002
season at #6 Purdue and #15 Notre Dame. The Brown and Gold also hosted
both Notre Dame and Purdue this season, just the second time Valpo has
entertained two top-25 programs in the same year.
First Win Ever Against a Ranked Foe: The victory
against Purdue was the first ever for a Crusader squad against a team
ranked in the top-25. It occurred in the 22nd game Valpo had played
all-time against an opponent ranked in the Associated Press top-25
Adams Takes Advantage of Opportunity: After
having played just 18 minutes of action all season entering the South
Dakota State game, Betsy Adams made the most of her number being called
against the Jackrabbits. The freshman played 15 minutes in the road
contest, scoring four points on 2-of-4 shooting from the floor. She
had scored only three points total in her six previous games on the
Zabielewicz Breaks Out: Sylwia Zabielewicz saw a
season-high 25 minutes of action against Purdue, scoring five points
and grabbing a season-best seven rebounds, including three on the
offensive end. The 6’6” center followed that effort up with a
season-high six points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field in 16 minutes
of play against Notre Dame. Last Sunday at South Dakota State, the
junior matched her season’s best with another seven boards.
From Downtown: The Crusaders rank near the top of the
Horizon League in both three-point shooting percentage and defending
the arc. Valpo’s 36.8% shooting from downtown leads the conference and
ranks 35th nationally. On the defensive end, the Brown and Gold are
allowing opponents to connect on just 30.1% from long range, second
best in the league.
Kulaga Nearing Top-20 All-Time at Valpo in Scoring:
Agnieszka Kulaga has the opportunity to move into the top-20 all-time
at Valpo in scoring within the next couple of weeks. The senior guard
enters the tournament with 776 career points (9.0 per game), and needs
just 54 more to match Jill Otto’s (1985-1989) 20th place mark of 830
Now That is Consistency: Head coach Keith
Freeman has stayed with the same five starters in all eight games this
year. Agnieszka Kulaga, Aimee Litka, Launa Hochstetler, Lauren Kenney,
and Sylwia Zabielewicz have taken to the court each night for the tip.
Super Women: Launa Hochstetler and Aimee Litka both
played all 40 minutes in the win against Purdue. They rank third and
fourth in the Horizon League in minutes played, while teammate
Agnieszka Kulaga leads the conference averaging nearly 37 minutes of
action per night.
Big Crowds: Valpo has played in front of more than
1,000 fans in each of the last seven games. The Crusaders drew their
biggest home crowd in years against Notre Dame on December 13, with
2,046 fans in attendance. Valpo ranks second in the Horizon League
this season in home attendance averaging 1,403 fans per game at the
ARC. Nearly 1,700 spectators have been on hand on average this season
overall, including a season-high 4,478 at Central Michigan. Valpo’s
total attendance average is highest in the Horizon League
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 three more
wins to reach the Valpo mark, where he has been coaching the last 15
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 against Florida State. 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.
Hochstetler Ranks Among Career Assist Leaders: Launa
Hochstetler continues to climb Valpo’s career assist list. She had two
assists against South Dakota State, and currently sits in ninth place
all-time at Valpo passing Kathryn Knoester (2000-2004). She has 261
assists, and trails Lisa Winter (1998-2000)’s eighth place total of 264
helpers by just three.
Kulaga Joins Hochstetler on Assist List: Agnieszka
Kulaga had one assist against South Dakota and now has 206 career
assists to move into 17th place all-time wearing the Brown and Gold.
The senior needs two more assists to match Lynda Kukla’s (1988-1992)
16th place mark of 208.
Litka Moves Into Top-10 All-Time in Triples:
Aimee Litka made three more three-pointers against South Dakota State
to solidify her spot in the top-10 in school history. The senior now
has 129 career triples and ranks ninth all-time in a Crusader uniform.
Litka needs three more treys to match Kathryn Knoester’s (2000-2004)
eighth place mark of 132 threes.
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
from November 25-29. 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
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.
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.
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 2-1 this year with wins over Bowling Green
and Purdue. Since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Valpo has
posted a 73-21 (.777) 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.