Valparaiso (8-19, 4-12 Horizon)
Game #28: Thursday, March 1, 2012, 7:05 p.m. CST
vs. Wright State (19-9, 12-4 Horizon)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Upcoming in Crusader Basketball: Valparaiso begins its final homestand of the regular season on Thursday evening as the Crusaders host Wright State at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Valpo is looking to gain momentum heading into next week’s Horizon League Tournament and still has hopes of hosting an opening round game.
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 Renee’ Turpa will call all of the action live from the Athletics-Recreation 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 284-245 (.537) record at the helm of the Brown and Gold. In his 23rd season overall, Freeman has a 413-292 (.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 Wright State are meeting for the 20th time in a series that dates back to Feb. 5, 1990. The Crusaders lead the overall series between the two schools 11-8 but the Raiders have won three of the last four games. Wright State won this season’s previous contest 58-42 in Dayton, Ohio on Dec. 28. Valpo won last year’s meeting at the ARC 73-64 and has won two straight against the Raiders at home. Valpo is 8-2 all-time against Wright State in Valparaiso.
Wrapping Up Milwaukee: The Panthers held Valpo to a season-low 22% shooting from the floor on Saturday afternoon on the way to a 50-31 victory over the Crusaders. Valpo made just one of 18 three-point attempts in the game and could not overcome a 10-point halftime deficit. Tabitha Gerardot led the Crusaders with 11 points while Gina Lange pulled down 10 rebounds. Sami Tucker scored 13 points for the Panthers while Angela Rodriguez added 11 more.
Scouting Wright State: The Raiders enter the contest having won three straight games and seven of their last nine contests overall following a 100-73 victory over Cleveland State on Saturday afternoon. Wright State has averaged 91.7 points per game over its last three contests. The Raiders, which finished 12-3 at home, are 7-6 away from the Nutter Center this season. Kim Demmings leads Wright State averaging 17.6 points per contest while handing out 4.4 assists per night. Molly Fox adds 15.9 points per game and 9.8 rebounds while Shaunda Sandifer pulls down a team-best 10.0 boards per night. Wright State leads the Horizon League allowing opponents to shoot just 35.6% per game.
Senior Day Game Time Changes: With Valparaiso University hosting the 2012 Horizon League Men’s Basketball Championship, the Crusader women’s game against Detroit on Saturday afternoon (March 3) has been moved to a 12:05 p.m. tip-off. The game had originally been slated for 1:35 p.m. Saturday will still be Senior Day with the Crusaders honoring Ashley Timmerman and Ashley Varner prior to the game, the members of the class of 2012.
Flying Up the Single Season Charts: Ashley Varner’s 240 rebounds this season rank her eighth on the Crusaders’ yearly list. She is two boards behind Tamra Braun (2005-2006) for seventh, four in back of Marlous Nieuwveen (2001-2002) for sixth, and trails Deb Lahti (1982-1983) by eight for fifth. Carole Pollitz’s (1982-1983) fourth place total of 250 rebounds is just 10 ahead of Varner. Varner’s current 8.9 rebound per game average also is fourth on the single season charts.
Richards Tied for 10th: With two steals at Milwaukee, Laura Richards has moved into a tie with Shari Toelke (1991-1992) for 10th on the single season theft list with 68 for her career. The junior is just four steals behind Mo Drabicki (1997-1998) and Jeanette Gray (2001-2002) for eighth in a single season.
Making Shots is the Key: The Crusaders have not won a game yet this season when making a lower percentage of their shots than their opponents. Conversely, when Valpo connects from the floor, the Brown and Gold is 8-3 on the year.
Fighting for a Home Game: With two games remaining in the regular season, Valparaiso is one-half game out of eighth place in the Horizon League standings and one-half game ahead of 10th place. The seventh and eighth place teams will host the ninth and 10th place teams in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament which begins on March 5.
Free Throw Shooting Much Improved: Valparaiso has improved its free throw shooting by nearly five percent during Horizon League play. The Crusaders shot just 67.6% from the charity stripe during the 11-game non-conference slate but has improved to 72.3% from the line during conference action. Tabitha Gerardot leads Valpo on the year, and ranks fifth in the Horizon League, shooting 79.8% from the stripe.
Needing to Find Offense: Valparaiso’s offense was clicking in early February, scoring 66 or more points three times in a four game span. However, the Crusaders scored just 67 total points in two games last weekend in Wisconsin, have been held to 43 points or fewer in three of their last four games to close the month of February.
Varner on the Career Rebounding List: Ashley Varner has continued to climb the Crusaders’ all-time rebounding charts this season, passing Jill Otto (1985-1989) for 13th on the career list. The fifth-year senior’s 556 career boards are 15 behind Deb Lahti (1982-1984) and Carrie Forsman (1992-1996) for 11th on the career charts.
Top-10 for Richards on Assists Chart: Laura Richards has moved into eighth place all-time at Valpo with 280 assists, passing Suzie Hammel (2000-2004) on the career charts. Richards is seven assists behind Lauren Bechtold (2002-2006) for seventh on the all-time list. Shari Toelke (1990-1994) ranks sixth on the assist list with 340 helpers.
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.
Gerardot Nearly Perfect: Tabitha Gerardot made 9-of-10 shots from the floor on Feb. 18 against Loyola (Chicago) on her way to a game-high 20 points. The sophomore’s 90% shooting percentage ranks fourth in school history for a single game (minimum eight attempts).
Dialing Long Range: The Crusaders connected on 7-of-11 three-pointers against Butler on Feb. 11, connecting on 63.6% from long range. The long range shooting ties for the eighth best single game percentage from beyond the arc in school history.
Getting to the Free Throw Line: Ashley Varner made 13-of-18 free throws against Cleveland State on Feb. 4. Her 13 free throws made tie her for fifth on Valpo’s single game list while her 18 attempts mark the third most by any Crusader in a game in school history.
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: Gina Lange tied her career high with 10 rebounds at Milwaukee on Saturday ... Laura Richards has played 614 out of 640 minutes during Horizon League play ... Tabitha Gerardot has scored in double figures in 18 of 27 games this year and seven or more points in 26 of 27 ... the Crusaders rank 11th in the country in fewest fouls per game at 13.1 ... every player to see action during conference play has made at least one three-point field goal.