Crusader Women Return Home for First Time in 2011 on Thursday
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Crusader Women Return Home for First Time in 2011 on Thursday
Stephanie Thomas matched career highs in scoring and rebounding on Saturday at Wright State. (Ray Acevedo)

Valparaiso (3-12, 0-3 Horizon)
Game #16: Thursday, January 13, 2011, 7:05 p.m. CST
vs. Youngstown State (2-13, 0-4 Horizon)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.

Upcoming in Crusader Basketball: After spending more than three weeks away from the Athletics-Recreation Center, Valparaiso returns home on Thursday evening to host Youngstown State in a Horizon League battle.  The Crusaders will play six of their next eight games at home, and are looking to pick up their first conference victory of the season.

On the Air: Thursday’s game will be broadcast live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) as well as online at  Chris Kleinhans-Schulz and Mike Pudlow will be calling all of the action live from the Athletics-Recreation Center.  In addition, the game can be seen live online through the Horizon League Network.  Live stats will be available through for the game as well.

Head Coach Keith Freeman: In his 17th season on the Valparaiso bench, Keith Freeman has a 272-214 (.560) record at the helm of the Brown and Gold.  In his 23rd season overall, Freeman has a 401-261 (.606) career mark.  He is Valpo’s all-time winningest coach and has amassed more than half of the victories in the program’s history.

Series Notes: Valparaiso and Youngstown State are meeting for the 28th time in a series that dates back to Jan. 29, 1993.  The Penguins hold a slim 14-13 advantage all-time between the two schools, which began as rivals in the Mid-Continent Conference.  Valpo has won five of the last seven meetings, including two straight last season.  The Crusaders were 66-41 victors in Youngstown on Jan. 14 and set a school record for fewest points allowed in a game in an 80-28 win on Feb. 13 at the ARC.  Valpo is 9-4 against the Penguins at the ARC and has won two straight on its home floor.

Wrapping Up Wright State: A 10-0 run during the first half and a 14-0 spurt in the second half were the difference for the Raiders as Wright State downed Valparaiso 90-67 on Saturday afternoon in Dayton, Ohio.  Wright State shot 51.5% from the floor and made 13 three-pointers in the victory while the Crusaders connected on just 37.5% from the field.  Betsy Adams led Valpo with 21 points while Tabitha Gerardot added 13 points and nine boards.  Maria Bennett led the Raiders with 26 points on eight triples and LaShawna Thomas added 22 points and eight assists.

Scouting Youngstown State: The Penguins have dropped 10 straight decisions following a 65-57 home loss to Green Bay on Saturday afternoon.  Youngstown State is led offensively by Brandi Brown, who is scoring 16.7 points and grabbing 8.8 rebounds per contest.  Kenya Middlebrooks adds 7.9 points per outing for the Penguins, which are 0-9 away from the Beeghly Center this season.  YSU is averaging 55.4 points per game while shooting 32.2% from the floor. and 24.4% from three-point range.

Another 15-Plus Point Night for Adams: Betsy Adams scored 21 points on Saturday afternoon at Wright State to take home team-high honors.  It was the 10th time in 15 games this season that the junior has tallied at least 15 points in a game.  Adams leads the way for Valpo averaging 14.1 points per game, the eighth best scoring mark in the Horizon League this season.

Lange Produces Inside: Gina Lange has been a consistent producer for the Crusaders this season in the post.  She has pulled down four or more rebounds in seven of her last eight games, including a six-rebound effort at Wright State on Saturday.  For the year Lange is second on the team with 5.8 rebounds per contest.  The sophomore also filled the cylinder on Saturday, matching her career high with 11 points on four-of-seven shooting against the Raiders.

Crusaders Also Improving at the Line:
Valparaiso is just a 69.4% free throw shooting team on the season, but the Crusaders have been much better in the four games following Christmas break.  Valpo has shot 78.4% in the contests against Eastern Illinois, Butler, Detroit, and Wright State, its best stretch this year.  The Crusaders had their best single game shooting day of the year on Saturday, connecting on 90.9% (10-of-11) from the charity stripe against the Raiders.

From Deep: Betsy Adams and Ashley Timmerman rank among the Horizon League’s top outside shooters this season.  Adams, a 42.5% shooter from three-point range is second in the conference while Timmerman connects at 40% from beyond the arc, fourth best in the league.  Adams’ mark also ranks the her 38th nationally in Division I from long range.  The junior is also fourth in the conference making 2.5 triples per game.

Duo Among League’s Best in Assist/Turnover Ratio: Laura Richards and Skyler Gick both rank among the top eight in the Horizon League in assist-to-turnover ratio this season.  Richards, who also is fifth in assists with 3.5 per game, has a 1.2 ratio while Gick, who is eighth in assists with 3.3 per contest, has a 1.1 mark this year.  Richards is tops in the conference in league games only with her 2.3 assist-to-turnover mark.

Adams Also Helping Out: Betsy Adams, who had 11 total assists in the first 11 games of the season, has also been dishing out helpers lately.  In the last four games she has 13 assists, and ranks 10th in the conference in league only action averaging 3.3 per contest.  Adams had a season high with four assists at Butler to open Horizon League action.

Another Near Double-Double for Gerardot: Tabitha Gerardot has already tallied five double-doubles in her brief 15-game career as a Crusader and just missed on number six Saturday afternoon.  The freshman had 13 points and nine boards, including six on the offensive end, against the Raiders.  Gerardot already has double-doubles against Cincinnati, Evansville, Coastal Carolina, Chicago State, and Eastern Illinois this year, and is second on the team in scoring at 10.1 points per game, while leading the Crusaders with 7.1 rebounds per contest.

Turnovers Down in League Play: Valpo has trimmed its turnovers per game down nearly four miscues per night during the first three contest of conference action.  While the Crusaders are still averaging 18.7 turnovers per game on the year, that number has dropped to 15.0 per Horizon League contest.  In two of the last three games the Crusaders have given the basketball up just 13 times.

A Small Change in the Lineup: After starting the same five players for the first 14 games of the year, Ashley Timmerman made her first Crusader start for Valpo against Wright State.  She joined mainstays Betsy Adams, Tabitha Gerardot, Gina Lange, and Laura Richards as a member of the starting five.

Adams From Deep: Betsy Adams has already made 37 triples this season after making 64 last year to rank 10th on the single season charts.  The junior guard has made at least one trey in 13 of the 15 contests this season, being shutout against just Cincinnati and Notre Dame, when she attempted just one shot in each game.  Adams has 115 career three-pointers, just four triples shy of the all-time top-10 list in Crusader history.

Accepting Charity: After making just four of her first seven free throws this season, Betsy Adams has found her stroke at the charity stripe.  The junior guard has made 26 of her last 28 attempts beginning with the Lamar game on Nov. 20, including her last 14 straight.  For the season Adams is connecting on 85.7% from the free throw line, the fourth best mark in the Horizon League.

Needing the Lead Early: Thus far this season the Crusader have not been able to overcome a halftime tie or deficit to pull out a win.  On the other hand, when Valpo has led going into the locker room, the Brown and Gold is a perfect 3-0. 

Still Able to Rally for the Win Though: Despite needing the lead at halftime to win so far this year, the Crusaders showed they were able to come from behind in all three contests.  While Valpo led the entire second half against Austin Peay after trailing early in the game, the Brown and Gold came from nine points down with less than 12 minutes to play to post the overtime triumph against Coastal Carolina.  Valpo also rallied from behind in the second half to defeat Eastern Illinois.

Big Crowd for Notre Dame: Valpo’s crowd of 1,877 fans on “Pack the ARC” night against Notre Dame was the largest Crusader home crowd since the Brown and Gold hosted the Fighting Irish in 2008.  On Dec. 13, 2008, 2,046 fans saw the two schools separated by just 58 miles.

Super Woman: Betsy Adams never stepped off of the court on Dec. 8 against IPFW, playing all 40 minutes.  It was the first time in the junior’s career she had not spent at least one minute on the bench.  Adams’ career high for minutes played is 44 in an overtime contest one year ago at Detroit.

Adams Earns All-Tourney Honors: Betsy Adams was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Aces Classic.  She averaged 18.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game for the Crusaders.

Freeman Earns Win #400: Head coach Keith Freeman needed five extra minutes on Dec. 4, but they were well worth it as the Crusaders’ come-from-behind win over Coastal Carolina, 59-52, gave him his 400th career victory coaching women’s basketball.  In his 23rd season on the sidelines, he entered the 2010-2011 season tied for 43rd among all active Division I coaches for career victories.  He has guided the Crusaders to more than 50% of the program’s victories all-time at Valpo and holds every one of Valpo’s coaching records.

Valpo Signs Three for 2011-2012: Coach Keith Freeman added three players for next year’s class that signed National Letters of Intent to play for the Brown and Gold beginning next fall.  Joining the Crusader roster in 2011-2012 are Jessica Carr (5-7, G, Arcadia, Ind., Hamilton Heights H.S.), Mallory Ladd (6-0, F, Evansville, Ind./Memorial H.S.), and Shaquira Scott (5-10, G, Wilmette, Ill./Loyola Academy).

Crusaders to Have Tri-Captains:
Head coach Keith Freeman has announced that the Crusaders will have tri-captains for the 2010-2011 season.  Serving in that role are seniors Ashley Varner and Rashida Ray along with junior Betsy Adams.

No Relation Here: Despite having three Lang(e)’s on the roster, none of the three players are related to one another.  Gina Lange returns for her sophomore season after arriving from Wyoming, Minn. and averaging 1.9 points and 1.5 rebounds per game while appearing 16 times as a freshman last year.  Freshman Stefanie Lang is a local product from Valparaiso High School who earned Honorable Mention All-State accolades for the Vikings.  Erika Lang joined the Crusader roster this fall as a walk-on.  The freshman hails from Las Vegas, Nev.

Valpo Tabbed Ninth in Preseason Poll: Valparaiso was picked to finish in ninth place in the Horizon League preseason poll conducted of the league’s coaches, sports information directors, and media members.  Finishing with 82 points, the Crusaders were just two points behind eighth place Wright State.  Green Bay was picked to win the league followed by Butler and Detroit.  Cleveland State and UIC shared the fourth spot with Milwaukee predicted to finish sixth and Loyola seventh.   Youngstown State was picked last in this year’s preseason balloting. 

Varner to Miss Season with ACL Injury: Valpo senior Ashley Varner will miss the 2010-2011 season due to an ACL injury she suffered during the fall.  Varner would have been one the Crusaders’ top returning post players, but plans to use the season as a redshirt year now and return to the court for 2011-2012.  Varner averaged 7.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Crusaders last year with a team-leading 17 blocked shots.

This and That: Stephanie Thomas went 4-for-4 from the free throw line at Wright State to match her career high with four points ... Thomas, a senior, also tied a career high in the game with five rebounds ... the Crusaders had a season-high 18 offensive rebounds against Wright State ... Valpo will not have an overnight road trip again until leaving Feb. 9 for Cleveland State.