Valparaiso (5-15, 1-8 Horizon)
Game #21: Thursday, February 2, 2012, 6:05 p.m. CST
at Youngstown State (9-11, 3-6 Horizon)
Beeghly Center (6,300) - Youngstown, Ohio
Upcoming in Crusader Basketball: The second half of Horizon League action tips off on Thursday evening as Valparaiso takes a trip east to the state of Ohio. The Crusaders will battle Youngstown State in the first of three straight road contests while playing five of their next seven games overall away from the Athletics-Recreation Center.
On the Air: Thursday’s game will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at valpoathletics.com. Chris Kleinhans-Schulz and John Kloehn will call all of the action live from the Beeghly Center. The game can also be seen live online through valpoathletics.com as part of the Horizon League Network. 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 281-241 (.538) record at the helm of the Brown and Gold. In his 23rd season overall, Freeman has a 410-288 (.587) 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 31st time in a series that dates back to Jan. 29, 1993. The Penguins lead the overall series 17-13 and have won three straight meetings between the two schools. In the first meeting this season between the two schools, Youngstown State posted a 55-48 victory over the Crusaders at the ARC on Jan. 7. The Penguins are 9-4 against Valpo all-time at the Beeghly Center, having won last year 79-76. The Crusaders’ last win in the series came on Feb. 13, 2010, an 80-28 victory at the ARC.
Wrapping Up Green Bay: Valpo outshot #12/9 Green Bay percentage-wise from the floor on Saturday afternoon, but the Phoenix forced the Crusaders into 26 turnovers which resulted in 32 points on the way to a 65-37 win over the Brown and Gold at the ARC. Gina Lange led Valpo with a career high 18 points while pulling down nine rebounds. Julie Wojta led the Phoenix with 19 points and 10 boards. The Crusaders held Green Bay to just 35.5% shooting from the floor, including just 4-of-21(19%) beyond the arc.
Scouting Youngstown State: The Penguins have dropped five of their last six games following a 71-66 overtime setback against Wright State at home on Saturday afternoon. Youngstown State is in the midst of a four-game homestand but is just 3-5 at the Beeghly Center this year. Brandi Brown leads the Penguins, averaging 16.7 points per game, fourth in the Horizon League. She also ranks third grabbing 9.7 rebounds per contest and is a 78.6% free throw shooter. Kenya Middlebrooks (11.5 ppg) and Heidi Schlegel (10.3 ppg) also tally double figures for the Penguins, which are scoring 64.1 points per night as a team.
Varner Grabs #500: Ashley Varner has continued to climb the Crusaders’ all-time rebounding charts this season and, with her fifth and final rebound Saturday against Green Bay, reached the 500-board plateau for her career. The fifth-year senior’s 500 career boards tie her with Katie Boone (2001-2005) for 14th on the all-time list at Valpo. Varner is 37 boards behind Jill Otto (1985-1989) for 13th on the career charts.
Lange Has Career Day Versus Green Bay: Gina Lange scored a career high 18 points on Saturday afternoon against Green Bay, making 7-of-11 shots from the floor. The junior post has now scored 15 or more points in three of her last four games, including a 17-point effort at Loyola (Chicago) on Jan. 19 that was her previous career high. During the four game span, Lange is shooting 54.7% (23-of-42) from the field.
Crashing the Boards as Well: In addition to her career high in scoring last Saturday, Gina Lange also matched her season high with nine rebounds against the Phoenix. Lange also pulled down nine boards in the season opener at SIU Edwardsville (Nov. 12) as well as against Cleveland State (Dec. 5) at the ARC. On the season Lange is third on the team averaging 5.1 rebounds per game.
Gerardot a Model of Consistency: Tabitha Gerardot pulled down eight rebounds for the Crusaders against Green Bay, marking the eighth time this season the sophomore has grabbed eight or more boards. She is second on the team averaging 6.6 rebounds per night. In addition, Gerardot had scored eight or more points in every contest this season before Saturday, when she was held to just four against the Phoenix. Gerardot leads Valpo scoring 12.0 points per game.
Nearly Automatic from the Stripe: Tabitha Gerardot is shooting 82.4% (28-of-34) from the free throw line since Horizon League play began this year. She has made her last 11 charity tosses in a row dating back to the Loyola (Chicago) game on Jan. 19.
Defending the ARC: Valpo limited Green Bay to just 19% (4-of-21) shooting from three-point range on Saturday. It was the second lowest percentage by a Crusader opponent this year, only ahead of Indiana Northwest’s 11.1% (2-of-18). On the season the Crusaders are holding opponents to 30.7% from long range, which ranks third in the Horizon League.
40 is the Magic Number: Valpo has won five of its six games this season when shooting 40% or better from the field this season, with its lone loss coming in overtime at SIU Edwardsville to open the season. The Crusaders have not won a game this year when shooting below 40%.
Playing Defense: Valpo is allowing just 58.0 points per game on the season, third fewest in the Horizon League. The Crusaders have allowed just 70 or more points twice all season and have held 12 opponents to fewer than 60 points.
Richards on Career Assists Chart: Laura Richards has moved into 12th place all-time at Valpo with 250 assists, passing Megan Newcomer (1996-2000) on the career charts. She is six assists behind Agnieszka Kulaga (2005-2009) for 11th on the all-time list and trails Kathryn Knoester (2000-2004) by seven helpers for a spot in the top-10 at Valpo.
What Foul?: 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 all season, committing just 12.7 fouls per game this season, sixth fewest among all NCAA Division I schools. In fact, the Crusaders went the entire first half without an infraction on Jan. 19 at Loyola (Chicago).
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.
Varner Earns Academic Honor: Ashley Varner was named as the Horizon League’s Scholar-Athlete of the Month for December. The fifth-year senior averaged 13.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in seven contests during the month, posting four double-doubles. In the classroom she is enrolled in graduate school working on her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling after already earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
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.
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: Valpo was held without a three-point field goal against Green Bay, the second time this year the Crusaders have come up empty beyond the arc ... Gina Lange played all 40 minutes against the Phoenix, marking the third time in the last six games she has gone the distance ... Valpo is averaging just 47.6 points per game in conference action.