Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team is set to embark upon its first overnight road trip since Jan. 17 when it travels to Dayton, Ohio for a Thursday matinee with Wright State. For the first time this season, the Raiders enter play as the top team in the Horizon League after benefiting from two Green Bay losses last week.
Last Time Out: The Crusaders had the lead with 1:10 to go, but couldn’t hold on in a 66-62 loss to Cleveland State on Saturday afternoon at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Jade Ely connected on a crucial 3-pointer to put Cleveland State up 56-55 after she secured an offensive rebound to extend a pivotal possession with just over a minute left. The Vikings held the lead for the remainder of the game, with their final 10 points all coming on free throws. Dani Franklin led the way with a double-double of 26 points and 10 rebounds. The game featured eight ties and 11 lead changes.
Following the Crusaders: Thursday’s game and every game for the remainder of the season will be available on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app. In addition, audio can be heard on 95.1 FM Valparaiso, WVUR with Brandon Vickrey (play-by-play) and Ben Ariano (color commentary) providing the hometown call. Links to live video, audio and stats can be found on ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Tracey Dorow: Tracey Dorow is in her fifth season at the helm of the Valparaiso women’s basketball program in 2016-17. She collected her 250th career victory on Nov. 14, 2014 with a 91-57 win over Butler. In her first season, Dorow led the Crusaders to 11 victories, including five in Horizon League play. Last year, Valpo again reached a double-figure win total by notching 10 triumphs, including an upset of Detroit Mercy in the Horizon League Tournament. Dorow arrived in Valparaiso after 14 seasons at Ferris State. She compiled a 232-163 record while with the Bulldogs. Ferris State posted the No. 1 grade point average in all of Division II for the 1999-2000 women’s basketball season as well as the No. 2 ranking in 2002-03.
Series Notes: Wright State owns a 17-12 lead in the all-time series between the two teams, which dates back to 1990. The Raiders have strung together nine consecutive victories since the most recent Crusader win on March 1, 2012, a 70-60 triumph at the ARC. In the first meeting of the season on Jan. 22 in Valpo, the Crusaders jumped out to a 16-6 lead after one quarter, but the Raiders prevailed 65-52 despite shooting just 29.9 percent. Chelsea Welch led all scorers with 19, while the Crusaders were paced by Haylee Thompson’s 15. The Crusaders have not won at the Nutter Center since joining the Horizon League (0-8). Their last win in Dayton came on Jan. 27, 1994.
- With her performance on Saturday, Dani Franklin cracked into Valpo’s Top 10 in single-season scoring and career scoring. Franklin now has 429 points this season, bumping Betsy Rietema (2006-2007) out of the single-season Top 10. She needs nine points to move into ninth, 15 to move into eighth and 28 to move into seventh.
- Franklin knocked Tamra Braun (2003-2007) out of Valpo’s Top 10 in career scoring.
- As a team, Valpo made 16 free throws on Saturday against Cleveland State, their highest total since Dec. 29 against Detroit Mercy.
- The Crusaders have strung together four straight games with over 40 rebounds for the first time this season. The last time they had four straight games with over 40 boards was the final four games of the 2014-15 season.
- The Crusaders will play the first-place team in the league for the third time this season. Valpo played Green Bay twice when the Phoenix were atop the league standings, now they play Wright State with the Raiders holding the top spot.
- Former Valpo head coach Keith Freeman is in his fifth year on Wright State’s staff. He was promoted to associate head coach before this season. Freeman was the head coach of the Crusaders for 18 years.
- The Crusaders have cracked into the top three in the league in field goal percentage defense at 39.7.
- With her next block, Amber Lindfors will become the first player in Valpo history to notch two 50-block seasons. She finished last year with 71 blocks, the second-highest single-season total in Valpo history.
- In its 45th season, Valpo is 518-623 all-time.
- Valpo has made two NCAA Tournament appearances (2002-03, 2003-04) and earned one WNIT berth (2001-02).
- The Crusaders have had more all-freshman team honorees in the last two years (3) than they did in the previous 12 seasons combined (2).
- Valpo reached double-figure wins for the first time since 2012-2013 a year ago with 10 victories. They also captured five league wins for the first time since 2012-13.
- Valpo has seven players on the roster listed at 6-foot or taller. The last time Valpo had that many players measure in at 6-foot or taller was the 2010-11 season.
- The five freshmen are also Valpo’s most since 2010-11.
- Valpo has had one first-team all-league selection (Launa Hochstetler, 2008-09) and two second team all-league players (Agnieszka Kulaga, 2007-08; Tabitha Gerardot, 2012-13).
- Valpo also boasts five representatives on the all-newcomer team (Lauren Kenney, 2008-09; Gerardot, 2010-11; Dani Franklin, 2014-15; Jasmyn Walker, 2014-15; Meredith Hamlet 2015-16), an all-defensive team member (Laura Richards, 2011-12), one Freshman of the Year (Franklin, 2014-15) and one Sixth Player of the Year (Franklin, 2014-15).
Inside the Raiders
- Have won nine straight games and – for the first time all season – enter Thursday in sole possession of first place in the Horizon League.
- Coming off a 67-47 victory over Northern Kentucky on Saturday.
- On their longest winning streak in 30 years as a Division-I program. The overall school record for longest winning streak is 13, set during the 1986-87 season.
- Picked to finish fifth in the Horizon League preseason poll.
- Went 24-11 and 12-6 in league play a year ago. Fell to Milwaukee in the Horizon League semifinals before losing 81-53 to Michigan in the first round of the WNIT.
- Antania Hayes, who tore her ACL in the first game of the Horizon League Tournament last season, has appeared in nine games this season, including the last three contests. She is back in action after sitting out the last time the Crusaders and Raiders faced off.
- Hurt by the loss of Richelle van der Keijl, who transferred to play her senior season under former Wright State head coach Mike Bradbury at New Mexico.
- Boosted by the addition of Chelsea Welch, who transferred from Pittsburgh and has two seasons of eligibility after sitting out 2015-16. She leads the team in scoring at 17.9 points per game, fourth in the league.
- Wright State has two of the top four rebounders in the conference. Lexi Smith gobbles up 9.0 rebounds per game (third), while Symone Simmons hauls in 8.5 per contest (fourth).
- The Raiders do a good job taking care of the ball, as they rank first in the league in turnover margin at +4.9. They also rank second in the Horizon League in scoring defense (61.8) and rebounding offense (40.0 rpg).
Wright State Head Coach Katrina Merriweather
- In her first season in charge of the Raiders.
- Joined Wright State’s staff as an assistant in September 2010.
- Has also coached at Purdue, UIC and Cincinnati.
- Made three WNIT appearances and one NCAA Tournament appearance during her four seasons as a player at Cincinnati.
- Replaced Mike Bradbury, who left to take over as New Mexico’s head coach.
- Fast Facts: Snapped a streak of 52 consecutive starts on Feb. 2 against Youngstown State…Only a sophomore, reached the 500-point plateau for her collegiate career on Jan. 14 at Youngstown State.
- Last Time Out: DNP on Saturday vs. Cleveland State
- Season Highlight: Posted her first career double-double on Jan. 14 at Youngstown State, matching a career high with 29 points while shattering personal bests in rebounds (10) and made field goals (12).
- Career Highlight: Exploded for 29 points at Northern Kentucky on Dec. 30, 2015. Went 10-of-11 shooting, the third-highest single-game field goal percentage in program history.
- Worth Noting: Made a game-winning layup at the buzzer to beat Chicago State on Nov. 16… Made 69 3-pointers last season, tying for the fifth most in a single season in school history. In addition, she set the record for the most 3-pointers by a freshman… Finished in double figures 16 times a year ago and is Valpo’s leading returning scorer at 10.6 points per game.
- Awards & Honors: Named to Horizon League all-freshman team last year… Team Captain this season.
- Fast Fact: After 14 straight games with no more than two made field goals, matched a career high by knocking down five shots on Jan. 31 at UIC.
- Last Time Out: Went 1-of-6 shooting and scored two points on Saturday against Cleveland State. Pulled down six rebounds and dished out five assists.
- Season Highlight: Scored a season-high 12 points on Jan. 31 at UIC, her first time in double figures this season.
- Career Highlight: Went 5-for-7 from beyond the arc on Nov. 28, 2015 against Northern Colorado, tying for the 10th best 3-point field goal percentage in a single game in program history. Also knocked down five triples against Detroit in the Horizon League quarterfinals later that season.
- Fast Fact: Has three rebounds or more in nine straight games for the first time in her career… After making four 3-pointers in her first 18 games of the season, knocked down five triples in a three-game span from Jan. 22 to Feb. 2.
- Last Time Out: Had five points, seven rebounds and six assists on Saturday against Cleveland State. Finished one rebound and one assist shy of career highs in those categories.
- Career Highlight: Enjoyed the most productive game of her Valpo career with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting on Feb. 2 against Youngstown State. Also grabbed four rebounds and handed out four assists. Had a career-high three 3-pointers in the victory.
- Season Highlights: Reached double figures for the first time in her Valpo career on Dec. 4 at No. 1 Notre Dame by scoring 10 points… Matched a career-high 10 points on Jan. 12 against Cleveland State. Established a new personal watermark in made field goals with five.
- Worth Noting: Had a career-high eight rebounds on Dec. 29 at Detroit Mercy to lead the team in rebounding for the first time in her Valpo career. Also scored six points to surpass the 100-point mark for her career in that game… Picked up her first career block on Jan. 5 against Green Bay.
- Awards and Honors: Named a team captain this season.
- Fast Facts: Recorded three blocks on Dec. 29 against Detroit Mercy, becoming the third player in Valpo history with 100 career blocks… With eight regular season games remaining, has 49 blocked shots this season, fifth most in a single season in Valpo history. Passed Tamra Braun’s 2005-06 season for sixth and Deb Lahti’s 1983-1984 season on Saturday… Needs one block to move into sole possession of fourth place in single-season Valpo history, passing Braun’s 2006-2007 season... Leads the Horizon League with 2.2 blocks per game.
- Last Time Out: Recorded five blocks while chipping in eight points and seven rebounds on Saturday against Cleveland State.
- Career Highlight: Turned in a double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds on Feb. 2 against Youngstown to shatter her previous career high in scoring, which was 17 earlier this season against Grace. Also established a new personal best in made field goals by going 9-of-15 and equaled a season-high in rebounds.
- Season Highlight: Had a career-high 17 points on Dec. 10, 2016 against Grace College. Her previous career high of 15 had stood since Dec. 21, 2015 against IU Kokomo.Worth Noting: Finished the 2015-16 season with 71 blocks, the second most in a single season in program history… Was the first Crusader to reach 70 blocks in a single season since Michelle Mader in 1991-1992… Led the Horizon League with 2.4 blocks per game in 2015-2016.
- Fast Facts: Had already set a new single-season career high for made 3-pointers, free throws, points and rebounds with nine regular season games remaining… Had as many double-doubles in a five-game stretch from Jan. 12-20 as she did in the first 73 games of her collegiate career… Scored the 1,000th point of her Valpo career on Jan. 17 at Green Bay, becoming the 14th player in program history to join the 1,000-point club… Enters Saturday tied in second in the league in scoring at 18.7 points per game and first in 3-point percentage at 43.9… Has scored 20 points or more in eight games… Hadn’t swiped four steals in any of the first 80 games of her Valpo career. She has now notched four steals in back-to-back contests.
- Last Time Out: Finished in double figures for the 21st time in 23 games on Saturday against Cleveland State when she turned in her sixth double-double of the year with 26 points and 10 rebounds. She’s reached double figures in nine straight games.
- Career Highlight: Set a career high and notched Valpo’s best individual scoring performance since 1992 and fifth-best in program history with 34 points at Stetson on Nov. 12, 2016… Franklin bested her previous career high by nine points, a mark that was established on Dec. 30, 2014 against Purdue Calumet and matched on Feb. 11, 2016 against Oakland… Only two players in program history have reached the 34-point mark before Franklin. Debbie Bolen did so three times, while Stephanie Greer owns the all-time single-game scoring record with 39 in 1990… The 34-point night is the best individual scoring performance in the Horizon League so far this season.
- Season Highlight: Scored 33 points on Dec. 3 against Eastern Illinois, finishing one shy of a career high. She became just the third player in program history who has scored 33 points or more in at least two games. Matched a career best with 12 made field goals, and went 6-of-7 at the free-throw line, with the misfire just her second of the year.
- Awards & Honors: Horizon League Freshman of the Year and Sixth Player of the Year in 2014-15. Team captain this season.
- Worth Noting: Shot 43.3 percent from 3-point range as a freshman in 2014-2015, the fourth best single-season mark in program history …Owns the two highest individual single-game scoring outputs in the Horizon League this season.
- Fast Fact: Entered the Ohio road trip with eight total rebounds in 13 games this season and pulled down seven boards over the two games in Ohio.
- Last Time Out: Played nine minutes and did not score on Feb. 4 against Cleveland State.
- Career Highlight: Set a career high with eight points including two made 3s on Dec. 4, 2016 against Notre Dame.
- Season Highlight: Scored seven points on Feb. 2 against Youngstown State, her highest total since Dec. 4 at Notre Dame. Played 18 minutes, her most since Dec. 31 at Oakland. Knocked down a 3-pointer, her first in a six-game span.
- Fast Fact: Led Valpo in scoring for the first time this year on Jan. 22 against Wright State, her most recent appearance.
- Last Time Out: Hasn’t played since Jan. 22 against Wright State. .
- Season Highlight: Matched a career high with 16 points against IU Kokomo Nov. 21. Went 6-of-8 from the floor in the game.
- Career Highlight: Poured in a career-best 16 points on Dec. 7, 2015, an effort that was needed for Valpo to earn a 63-62 win over Cardinal Stritch. Thompson scored 14 of her game-high 16 points after halftime.
- Worth Noting: The longest-tenured Crusader as she enters her fourth season with the program. Only her third year playing after sitting out one season due to transfer rules. Came to the Crusaders from Utah State… Led the team in field goal percentage at 51.9 percent last season.
- Fast Facts: Went 6-for-6 at the free-throw line on Saturday against Cleveland State, a career-high for made free throws.
- Last Time Out: Turned in eight points and six rebounds in the game against the Vikings, her highest point total since Dec. 31 at Oakland and highest rebound total since Dec. 29 at Detroit Mercy.
- Season Highlight: Reached double figures for the first time in her Valpo career with 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting against Grace College on Dec. 10.
- Worth Noting: Father Scott Morrison is a former Valparaiso men’s basketball player.
- Fast Fact: Knocked down three 3s in her Crusader debut, becoming the first player to do so since Annemarie Hamlet in 2014. Hales became the first freshman to pour in three 3s in a season opener in the last decade… Has passed 100 points for her freshman season…. 21-for-21 at the free-throw line over her last 11 games.
- Last Time Out: Made her way into double figures for the first time since Jan. 7 against Milwaukee on Saturday against Cleveland State. She scored 11 points and knocked down three triples for the first time since the season opener against Stetson.
- Season Highlight: Scored nine points at Stetson on Nov. 12, marking the third straight year a Valpo freshman has scored nine points or more on opening night. Meredith Hamlet and Dani Franklin did so each of the last two seasons, and both went on to make the Horizon League all-freshman team.
- Career Highlight: Opened conference play in style with a career-high 13 points on Dec. 29 at Detroit Mercy, her second consecutive game in double figures.
- Worth Noting: Father Ross played football and basketball at Indiana University.
- Fast Fact: Notched her first-career made basket against a Division-I opponent on Jan. 14 at Youngstown State. Did so in style, finishing an important layup despite being fouled… Has scored in three of the last four games.
- Last Time Out: Scored two points in three minutes on Saturday against Cleveland State.
- Season Highlight: Scored her first collegiate point on Nov. 16, making a free throw in the win over Chicago State.
- Worth Noting: Received honorable mention all-state recognition as a senior in high school.
- Fast Fact: Made her first appearance since Jan. 5 on Thursday against Youngstown State.
- Last Time Out: Appeared in the final minute of Saturday’s game against Cleveland State.
- Season Highlight: Made her season debut on Nov. 21 against IU Kokomo and turned in seven points.
- Career Highlight: Rose up to the competition against Louisville on Dec. 5, 2015, leading the team with 12 points.
- Worth Noting: Set the NJCAA record for 3-pointers in a single season (143) in 2014-15 at Dakota College at Bottineau.