Valparaiso (2-6, 0-0 Horizon)
Game #9: Saturday, December 10, 2011, 1 p.m. CST
at Pittsburgh (4-5, 0-1 Big East)
Petersen Events Center (12,508) - Pittsburgh, Pa.
Upcoming in Crusader Basketball: After winning two of three games on the latest homestand, Valparaiso takes to the road on Saturday afternoon to battle Big East foe Pittsburgh. The Crusaders will play four of their next five games away from the Athletics-Recreation Center.
On the Air: Saturday’s game will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at valpoathletics.com. Chris Kleinhans-Schulz and Renee’ Turpa will call all of the action live from the Athletics-Recreation Center. Live stats will be available through valpoathletics.com for all games this season as well.
Head Coach Keith Freeman: In his 18th season on the Valparaiso bench, Keith Freeman has a 278-232 (.545) record at the helm of the Brown and Gold. In his 23rd season overall, Freeman has a 407-279 (.593) 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 Pittsburgh are meeting for the third time in a series that dates back to 2009 with the Panthers winning both of the previous two contests. The Panthers downed the Crusaders in the lone meeting in Pittsburgh 77-52 on Dec. 8, 2009 before winning in Valpo 86-51 on Dec. 11 of last season. The Crusaders are playing their 55th game against the current Big East members on Saturday, but are still in search of their first victory against the conference, having played six different schools.
Wrapping Up IPFW: Valparaiso led from start to finish on Tuesday evening at the Athletics-Recreation Center on the way to a 64-43 victory over the Mastodons. The Crusaders’ defense was solid all game long, allowing IPFW to shoot just 22.8% (13-of-57) from the floor and 5-of-25 (20%) from three-point range. Ashley Varner and Tabitha Gerardot both notched double-doubles for the Crusaders with Varner leading the team with 18 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Gerardot added 15 points and 10 boards while Laura Richards tallied a career-high 12 points. Shaquira Scott added 11 points as Valpo shot a season-high 48.9% from the field. Erin Murphy led IPFW with 14 points.
Scouting Pittsburgh: The Panthers enter the game having dropped four of their last five games following an 82-54 setback on Wednesday evening against Georgetown in their Big East Conference opener. Pitt is 4-3 at home on the season, having played on the road just twice this year. Brianna Kiesel leads the Panthers scoring 13.3 points per contest while Marquel Davis adds 10.6 points per contest. Leza Burdgess is the team’s leader on the glass pulling down 7.6 rebounds per night. As a team Pitt is shooting 37.3% from the floor, but just 24.3% from outside the arc. The Panthers are just a 57.8% free throw shooting team as well.
Double-Doubles Continue to Come: Valparaiso recorded its fourth and fifth double-doubles of the season on Tuesday evening in the victory over IPFW. Tabitha Gerardot registered her third of the season, and 12th of her career (which includes just 39 total games) with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Ashley Varner tallied her second career double-double, and first since 2009, with 18 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
Varner Continues to Crash the Boards: Ashley Varner recorded a new career high with 12 rebounds on Tuesday evening against IPFW, her fourth straight game of double-figure boards. The fifth-year senior has grabbed at least seven rebounds in all eight games this season, and ranks third in the Horizon League averaging 9.4 rebounds per outing. Varner has led Valpo on the glass in each of the last five games.
Playing Defense: Valpo leads the Horizon League in scoring defense this season, allowing just 56.2 points per contest. The Crusaders have allowed just 131 total points over the last three games (43.7 per contest). Valparaiso surrendered just 41 points last Saturday in the loss to Lehigh, before holding IPFW to just 43 points on Tuesday.
More Defense: Valpo had not held three straight opponents under 50 points in a game since the end of the 2007 season. From Feb. 17-March 3, 2007, the Crusaders won five straight games, with the opposition scoring 48 or fewer points in each victory.
Good Defense Forces Bad Shots: Valpo’s stingy defense on Tuesday night made it difficult for the Mastodons to get good looks at the basket. As a result, IPFW shot just 22.8% (13-of-57) from the floor for the game, including 18.5% (5-of-27) in the opening half. The 22.8% shooting is the lowest by a Horizon League opponent this season.
Going the Distance: Laura Richards played all 40 minutes for the Crusaders on Tuesday against IPFW for the second time this season. The junior also never left the floor against Rice, just one game after playing 40 of the 45 minutes in the overtime contest against SIU Edwardsville in the season opener. She ranks sixth in the Horizon League averaging 35.0 minutes per contest.
Richards Tallies Career High: While playing every second on Tuesday, Laura Richards scored a career-high 12 points for the Brown and Gold. The junior guard went 5-of-7 from the floor and 2-for-2 from three-point range. The two triples were her first two makes from distance this season.
Finally Making Shots: Valpo shot a season-high 48.9% from the field in the win against IPFW, including 6-of-14 (42.9%) from three-point range.
Not Much Contact Here: With such a short bench, fouls have become a premium this season for the Crusaders. Valpo has done a good job of staying out of foul trouble this season, committing just 103 total fouls in eight games, an average of 12.9 per contest, the 14th fewest in the country.
Who’s in the Lineup Tonight?: Due to injuries and illnesses this season, only four Crusaders have appeared in all eight games thus far this season. Gina Lange, Tabitha Gerardot, and Ashley Varner have started each contest, while Shaquira Scott has seen the floor in all eight games as well. On Tuesday in the victory over IPFW, only six Crusaders saw the floor in the contest.
Adams Seventh All-Time: Betsy Adams is in seventh place all-time in school history for three-pointers made. She has 146 career triples, just ahead of Megan Newcomer (1996-2000). Next up on the list in sixth place is Jamie Gutowski (2002-2006) with 151, just five ahead of Adams. Adams is also sixth all-time with 423 career triple tries, 15 behind Kathryn Knoester (2000-2004) for a spot in the top-five on the attempts list.
Gerardot Garners All-Tournament Team Accolades: Tabitha Gerardot was named to the Omni Hotels Classic All-Tournament Team following her efforts last weekend against Colorado and Montana State. The sophomore forward averaged 10 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest while shooting 57.1% (8-of-14) from the floor in Boulder, Colo.
Valpo in the Preseason Polls: Valparaiso was tabbed to finish ninth in the Horizon League this season in the preseason coaches, media, and sports information directors poll. Green Bay was picked to win their 14th consecutive Horizon League regular season title.
Adams Named Preseason Second Team: Betsy Adams was named to the All-Horizon League Preseason Second Team in voting done by the league’s head coaches, media members, and sports information directors. Adams led Valpo in scoring with 12.6 points per game last season and finished fourth in the conference making 2.2 triples per contest. She was ninth in the Horizon League making 34.9% from three-point range on the year.
Valpo Signs Three for 2012-2013: Coach Keith Freeman added three players for next year’s class that have signed National Letters of Intent to play for the Brown and Gold beginning next fall. Joining the Crusader roster in 2012-2013 are guards Abby Dean (5-10, Carmel, Ind./Carmel H.S.), Sarah Godwin (5-10, Yardley, Pa./Princeton Day H.S. [N.J.]), and Jessi Wiedemann (6-0, Palatine, Ill./Fremd H.S.).
This and That: Tabitha Gerardot played 38 minutes for the second consecutive game on Tuesday against IPFW ... Gerardot now ranks second in the Horizon League averaging 3.5 offensive rebounds per game after grabbing six offensive boards against the Mastodons ... Jessica Carr handed out six assists against IPFW, the second time this season she has dished out six helpers ... Shaquira Scott registered a career-best three assists Tuesday against the Mastodons ... following the game with Pitt, Valpo will have eight days off before heading to Ball State during the school’s final exam period.