Valparaiso shot better than 60% from the floor in the first half
and 52% for the game on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders atoned for a
earlier 33-point loss to Butler in Indianapolis by defeating the Bulldogs 75-65 at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
“We defended them a lot
better this time (as opposed to the 77-44 loss on January 23),” head coach Keith Freeman “We didn’t get into as many situations where
we had to scramble on defense. We didn’t
let them get the ball in the paint.” said.
The Crusaders started the
game hot from the floor, making six of their first seven shots to take a quick
12-4 lead just four minutes into the contest.
Butler responded with a 9-0 run that put the Bulldogs on top for the
only time on the afternoon, 21-18, following a three-pointer by Candace Jones.
Valpo answered with a 16-5
run, including five points from Ashley
Varner (South Bend, Ind./Washington H.S.) and a pair of three-pointers
by Aimee Litka (South Bend,
Ind./Saint Joseph’s H.S.) to retake the lead for good, a give the Brown and
Gold a 34-26 lead with 4:36 to play before intermission.
Butler would cut the lead in half before the Crusaders took
a 42-32 lead into the locker room.
After the Bulldogs scored the
first basket of the second half, a 10-2 Valpo run, eight of which came from Launa Hochstetler (Berlin, Ohio/Hiland
H.S.), gave the Crusaders their largest lead of the game, 52-36.
“I was really pleased with
Launa,” added Freeman. “That was a big
time performance. She made some big
Butler answered with nine straight points to close within
seven, but Valpo would have an answer every time the Bulldogs would look to
creep even closer. Brittany Bowen’s
three-pointer brought Butler within 59-53 with
8:42 to play, but Agnieszka Kulaga (Tarnow, Poland/I
Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace H.S.) answered with a triple of her own. Bowen cut the lead to five with 4:34 to play,
but again Kulaga stepped up, hitting a fall-away jumper to make it a three
possession game again.
“Aggie hit a couple of big
shots, including the three,” said Freeman.
“She was very focused on defense as well.”
Katie Emig (Farmington Hills, Mich./Birmingham
Marian H.S.) scored down low on the next possession to increase the lead to
nine and the Crusaders made 9-of-10 free throws in the final 3:03 to secure the
victory and move into sole possession of fourth place in the Horizon League
“Katie gave us some big
minutes off of the bench,” said Freeman.
“We made free throws too, which were a big part of this game.”
Hochstetler led all scorers
with 24 points and grabbed a team-high six rebounds for Valpo while dishing our
four assists. Litka added 13 points, 10
in the first half, while Kulaga had 11 points and five boards. Hochstetler and Kulaga both played all 40
minutes for the Brown and Gold.
Lade Akande led Butler (16-9, 11-3 Horizon
League) with 16 points. Bowen added 15
points and Terra Burns tallied 12 for the Bulldogs.
Valpo committed just 11
turnovers on the night, including just four in the opening 20 minutes and held
a 32-26 advantage scoring in the paint. Butler did out rebound
Valpo, 34-29, including 15-7 on the offensive end.
“Today we had some teamness
both defensively and offensively,” concluded Freeman. “Thursday will be another challenge in this
Valparaiso (14-11, 8-6 Horizon) will continue its homestand on
Thursday evening, as the Crusaders entertain first place Green Bay.
Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m. at the ARC with all the action carried live
on the Horizon League Network as well as on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso).
Game Notes: The
game was a “WBCA Pink Zone” game in which both teams had pink warm-ups on in
support of the fight against breast cancer … Kulaga has scored in double
figures in five straight games and Hochstetler has reached double digits in six
straight games … Kulaga passed Heidi Diefenthaler (1992-1996) for 16th
place all-time at Valpo with 899 career points … Litka passed Michelle Russell (1991-1994)
for 18th place on the scoring list with 886 points … Hochstetler
tied Shari Toelke (1990-1994) for fifth on Valpo’s career assist list as her
four helpers give her 340 for her career … Butler leads the all-time series
16-5 but the teams have split 2-2 since Valpo joined the Horizon League …
Butler entered the game allowing just 49.4 points per game in Horizon League
play and had held 10 of the previous 13 opponents below 50 points.