(South Bend, Ind./Saint Joseph’s H.S.) scored 26 points and Valparaiso
shot 56% from the floor on the way to an 83-65 victory over the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Thursday evening at the Klotsche
Center in Milwaukee, Wis.
“Aimee played an outstanding
game for us tonight,” head coach Keith
Freeman said. “She shot the ball
Litka, who was two points off
of her season high, made 6-of-9 three pointers and added five rebounds and five
steals while dishing out three assists as the Crusaders avenged three losses
against the Panthers a year ago, including a setback in the quarterfinals of
the Horizon League Tournament.
“In this league it is hard to
win on the road, added Freeman. “To come
in here and play like we did after Butler
(a 77-44 loss) is a good step forward.”
The first half was all Litka
for the Crusaders. The junior was 6-of-9
from the floor, pouring in 21 points, bettering her season high by a point in
just 20 minutes. She made 4-of-5 from
three-point range, including a triple as time expired in the stanza to put
Valpo up 48-28 at intermission.
At the start it was Milwaukee with the hot
hand, making eight of its first 11 shots from the floor to take a 19-15 lead
eight minutes into the game. From there,
Litka took over, spearheading a 33-9 run to end the half. She had 10 points with 11:18 left following a
back door laying and a three-pointer to put the Crusaders on top 22-19.
Another triple by the senior
and a pretty feed down low from Agnieszka
Kulaga (Tarnow, Poland/I
Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace H.S.) to Lauren
Kenney (Mooresville, Ind./Mooresville H.S.) capped a 9-0 run to
push the lead to 31-22 at the 8:38 mark.
The lead grew to 10 as Litka
drained a triple with the shot clock expiring, and Kulaga added another three
on the next possession.
The Crusader defense helped
the offense as well, as Valpo recorded 11 steals in the opening 20 minutes
while forcing 15 Panther turnovers. The
Brown and Gold capitalized on the takeaways, turning them into 20 first half
A steal by Kenney followed by
her running the floor and getting it back for a laying made it a 17-point
advantage in the final minute, and after one final theft, Litka drained a three
from the corner to make the lead 20.
“I really liked the way we
moved the ball the first half,” Freeman said.
“We made the extra pass.”
Valpo committed just six
turnovers in the first half and shot 58% from the floor in building the
The Crusaders came out of the
locker room and immediately added to the lead, scoring nine of the first 11
points to increase the advantage to 57-30 with just over 16 minutes to play in
the game. Valpo had two more steals
during the run, and Litka added to her night with an assist to Launa Hochstetler (Berlin, Ohio/Hiland
H.S.) for a triple.
Milwaukee made a run at the Crusaders over the next four
minutes. An 11-2 ouburst, keyed by Traci
Edwards, cut the Valpo advantage to 59-41 with just under 12 minutes to play.
The Panthers, behind 16
points in 12 minutes from Edwards, kept creeping back, pulling within 14 with
10 minutes to go.
A Hochstetler triple with
7:30 to play extended the Valpo lead to 19, but Milwaukee scored seven straight points, and
following a Markita Barnes three, had the Crusader advantage down to 71-59 with
502 to play.
Valpo made free throws to
extend the lead back to 18 with three minutes to play before Milwaukee made one last run. An Edwards basket inside and a triple by
Jodie McClain made it 77-64 just a minute later. The Crusaders made more free throws down the
stretch to pull away with the victory.
Hohchstetler finished with 18
points for the Crusaders, including 14 in the second half, along with five
assists and five steals. Kulaga added 15
points and seven assists for the Brown and Gold.
“Launa had a great game and
Aggie played great defense,” said Freeman.
Edwards finished with 30
points for Milwaukee
(8-11, 3-5 Horizon League), including 21 points in the second half, while
grabbing 16 rebounds. She was the only
Panther to finish in double figures as Barnes finished with nine.
The Panthers finished with 24
turnovers and shot 41% from the floor while making just 12-of-18 free throws. Valpo, on the other hand, made 18-of-20 from
the charity stripe.
“We did a good job of
attacking their pressure tonight,” concluded Freeman. “We had 19 assists which shows we played good
Valparaiso (10-8, 5-3) will wrap up its three-game road trip on
Saturday afternoon when the Crusaders travel up the road to face Green Bay. Tip-off against the Phoenix
is set for 2 p.m. with all the action carried live on the Horizon League
Network and on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso).
Game Notes: Kulaga
moved into 20th place all-time at Valpo with 833 career points …
Litka moved past Megan Newcomer (1996-2000) into sixth place all-time with 148
career three-pointers … Kulaga’s seven assists move her from 16th
place into 13th place all-time with 230 career assists … 18 steals as
a team mark a season high … Milwaukee leads the all-time series 8-3 … this was
Valpo’s first win against the Panthers since December 5, 2001.