Game #17: January 23, 2009, 6 p.m. CST
Valparaiso (9-7, 4-2 Horizon)
at Butler (11-6, 6-0 Horizon)
Hinkle Fieldhouse (10,000) - Indianapolis, Ind.
Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: Having won three straight games and climbed into third place in the Horizon League standings, the Valparaiso Crusaders take to the road on Friday evening to begin a three-game road trip against first place Butler. The Bulldogs enter the contest between Hoosier State foes riding a seven-game winning streak and are a perfect 6-0 in conference play.
On the Air: Friday’s game against Butler will be carried live on the Horizon League Network at horizonleaguenetwork.tv or through the link at valpoathletics.com. In addition, the game can be heard live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and through the Valpo athletics website. Adam Amin and Adam Tein will call all of the action live from historic Hinkle Fieldhouse. Live stats are also available via Gametracker through valpoathletics.com.
Series Notes: Butler holds a 15-4 all-time advantage against the Crusaders dating back to February 11, 1980. The Crusaders has won three of the last four game between the two Indiana rivals though, including a split of the season series one year ago. Valpo was a 77-69 victor over the Bulldogs at the ARC while Butler won in Indianapolis 66-58 in the regular season finale for both schools. Butler holds a 7-1 series advantage in Hinkle Fieldhouse, with Valpo’s lone victory coming in 1983.
Wrapping Up Loyola: Launa Hochstetler scored 18 points and dished out six assists while Aimee Litka added 17 points as Valparaiso defeated the Ramblers 69-52 on Saturday afternoon at the ARC. The Crusaders shot a blistering 61% from the floor in the second half to break open a three-point halftime lead. Sylwia Zabielewicz also scored in double figures for the Brown and Gold with 10 points while Shannon Finnegan led Loyola with 11 points off of the bench.
Scouting Butler: The Bulldogs’ seven-game winning streak is currently tied for the 12th longest in the country following a 58-48 win over UIC at home on Saturday. Lade Akande leads Butler in scoring, averaging 12.1 points pre game. Melanie Thornton adds 11.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per night, and ranks second in the Horizon League on the glass. Butler’s defense has led the way most of the season, as the Bulldogs allow just 55.8 points per game, second fewest in the league. Butler leads the league in offensive rebounding, grabbing 13.6 boards per night.
Hochstetler Honored by Horizon League: Launa Hochstetler was named the Horizon League Player of the Week for the first time in her career after averaging 21 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.5 steals in victories over UIC and Loyola. The senior guard tied her career high with 24 points against UIC and added 18 points and six assists against the Ramblers. Hochstetler shot 57.1% from the floor, including 3-of-6 from three-point range, and made 7-of-8 free throws in the two games.
Surpassing 300 Assists: Launa Hochstetler’s feed to Whitney Farris with 13:53 to play in the second half against Loyola made the senior just the sixth Crusader in school history to reach the 300 assist mark for a career. Hochstetler now has 303 career assists and needs just 37 more helpers to move into the top-five all-time wearing the Brown and Gold.
Taking Care of the Basketball: Valpo’s turnover numbers have dropped off considerably over the past two games. The Crusaders turned the ball over a season-low 12 times on Saturday against Loyola after committing just 13 miscues the game before against UIC. Valpo is averaging 17.6 turnovers per game on the season, but the number has dipped to 16.0 in Horizon League play, fewest in the conference during league action.
Litka Steps Up: Aimee Litka has returned to the scoring column of late, having poured in double figures in three of the last four games. The senior scored 17 points on Saturday against Loyola, tying the second highest output of the season for her. She made 7-of-8 from the free throw line against the Ramblers, and now is ranked seventh in the Horizon League in scoring, averaging 12.3 points per game.
Farris Crashes the Glass: Whitney Farris has been getting to the glass over the last seven games. The junior forward has grabbed six or more rebounds in five of the seven contests, including eight last Saturday against Loyola, one off of her season high. Farris is averaging 4.9 boards per game this season, but leads the team with 5.3 rebounds in Horizon League action.
Forcing Turnovers in League Play: Valpo is forcing opponents into 22.5 turnovers per contest in conference play this season. The Crusaders forced 26 miscues from Loyola on Saturday, and have also created 27 and 31 takeaways against Cleveland State and Wright State.
Lineup Shuffling: After maintaining the same starting five for the first nine games of the season, the Crusaders have now used five different lineups in the last eight games. Aimee Litka and Launa Hochstetler are the only to Valpo players to start all 16 games. In fact, nine different Crusaders have been on the floor to start a game this season.
Among the Nation’s Best at the Free Throw Line: Launa Hochstetler and Agnieszka Kulaga rank 18th and 19th respectively in all of NCAA Division I at the free throw line this season through January 18. Hochstetler also leads the Horizon League shooting 88.1% (59-of-67) from the free throw line this season. For her career, the senior is an 85.0% shooter from the charity stripe and needs just 11 more attempts to qualify for Valpo’s career percentage leader. Kulaga is shooting 88.0% (44-of-50) for the season and is an 83.0% career shooter.
Nearly Making More Free Throw Than Opponents Attempt: Valpo has made 278 free throws this season, shooting 74.5% from the charity stripe as a team this season. The Crusaders have made just 16 fewer free throws than the opposition has attempted total this year. In Horizon League play, Valpo has made 89 free throws while opponents have attempted just 61.
Zabielewicz Strikes Again: Sylwia Zabielewicz tallied double figures for the second time in three games with her 10-point effort Saturday against Loyola. The junior college transfer scored 20 points against Detroit the Saturday prior and is averaging 6.0 points per game in conference play while shooting 57.7% from the floor against league foes.
League’s Leading Offense: Valpo leads the Horizon League scoring 65.9 points per game on the season. The Crusaders have three of the top-20 scorers in the league, led by Aimee Litka who is seventh with 12.3 points per night. The team’s leading scorer, Lauren Kenney (12.8 ppg) has missed the last six games with an injury and is not eligible for the league leaders.
Playing Overtime: Valparaiso’s overtime win against Detroit was the Crusaders’ fifth straight when playing extra sessions. The Crusaders have not dropped an overtime contest since November 21, 2005, a double-overtime affair against Bradley.
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 game or two. The senior guard has scored 816 career points, and needs just 14 more to match Jill Otto’s (1985-1989) 20th place mark of 830 points.
Freeman Reaches Several Milestones: Head coach Keith Freeman has reached three milestones already this season. Valpo’s victory against Florida State on November 29 was the 375th of his career overall coaching women’s basketball. He coached his 600th collegiate game at Wright State on January 8 and recorded his 250th victory on the Crusader sidelines on January 10 against Detroit.
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.
More Solid Free Throw Shooting: As a team, Valpo went 35-of-42 from the line against Florida State, with the 35 makes ranking second all-time in school history. The 42 attempts were tied for fifth most ever in a game, while Lauren Kenney’s 13 makes in the game tie for fifth on the individual charts.
Kulaga Nearing Top-15 in Assists: Agnieszka Kulaga had two assists against Loyola and now has 223 career assists to rank 16th all-time wearing the Brown and Gold. She is one assist shy of Stephanie Greer (1987-1991), who is 15th all-time with 224 career helpers and five behind Lina Mascarenas (1988-1992) and Betsy Rietema (2003-2007) for 13th place all-time.
Litka Among Top-10 All-Time in Triples: Aimee Litka made two more three-pointers against Loyola to move past Heidi Diefenthaler (1992-1996) into seventh place all-time at Valpo for triples made in a career. Litka now has 141 treys in four seasons, and trails Megan Newcomer (1996-2000) by just four triples for sixth place all-time.