Horizon League Tournament Quarterfinals
Game #30: March 11, 2009, 7:05 p.m. CDT
#5 Wright State (14-15, 10-8 Horizon)
at #4 Valparaiso (16-13, 10-8 Horizon)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: Valparaiso begins the postseason on Wednesday evening as the Crusaders play host to Wright State at the ARC in the quarterfinals of the 2009 Speedway Horizon League Championships. Valpo, the fourth seed, and Wright State, the fifth seed, are meeting for the third time this year, with each school defending its home court during the regular season.
On the Air: Wednesday’s game against Wright State will be carried live on the Horizon League Network at horizonleaguenetwork.tv or through the link at valpoathletics.com. In addition, the game can be heard live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and through the Valpo athletics website. Adam Amin, Adam Tein, and Danny Robertson will call all of the action live from the ARC. Live stats are also available via Gametracker through valpoathletics.com.
Series Notes: The Crusaders lead the all-time series with Wright State 9-4 and hold a 6-1 advantage at the ARC. The Raiders had won three straight games in the series, including the first meeting this season, until Valpo won second contest of the year between the two schools. On January 8 in Dayton, Shey Peddy scored 19 points and LaShawna Thomas added 17 for the Raiders in Wright State’s 54-44 win. Aimee Litka led Valpo with 13 points. In the rematch at the ARC on February 8, Launa Hochstetler led Valpo with 22 points while Peddy scored 15 for Wright State in the Crusaders’ 64-58 win.
Wrapping Up Youngstown State: Valpo shot just 23.2% from the field, including 2-of-20 from three-point range, and dropped the regular season finale 54-38 on Saturday afternoon in Youngstown, Ohio. Lauren Kenney led the Crusaders with 10 points while Camisha Alexander scored 12 points off of the bench for the Penguins.
Scouting Wright State: The Raiders ended the regular season with four straight wins following a 49-48 victory over UIC on Saturday on a three-pointer by Kanisha Ward with 4.8 seconds remaining. LaShawna Thomas leads the Raiders in scoring, averaging 12.5 points per game, while Second Team All-Horizon League selection Shey Peddy adds 12.4 points per night. Peddy also was named to the All-Defensive Team. Molly Fox was named to the All-Newcomer Team for Wright State.
Crusaders To Host First Postseason Game Since 2002: Valparaiso is hosting a Horizon League Championship game for the first time since the Crusaders joined the conference at the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year. Valpo’s last home postseason contest came on March 20, 2002, when the Brown and Gold entertained Houston in the quarterfinals of the WNIT. The last time the Crusaders hosted a conference tournament game was a quarterfinal game of the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament against Eastern Illinois on March 4, 1995.
Looking for First Horizon League Tournament Victory: Valpo is looking for its first victory in the Horizon League Championships. Last season, as the sixth seed, the Crusaders dropped a 67-60 quarterfinal contest to Milwaukee on the Panthers’ home floor. Sarah Ott led the Crusaders with 15 points while Aimee Litka added 12 for the Brown and Gold. Traci Edwards led Milwaukee with 26 points and 11 boards.
Hochstetler Becomes Valpo’s First Horizon League First Team Pick: Launa Hochstetler was named to the Horizon League’s First Team in a vote of coaches, sports information directors, and the media, becoming the first Crusader women’s basketball player ever to earn the honor from the conference. Agnieszka Kulaga was a Second Team pick a year ago, the only other Crusader to earn All-League honors since Valpo moved to the conference. Hochstetler ranks 10th in the conference in scoring (11.5 ppg), leads the league in assists (4.7 apg), is third in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3), and second in free throw shooting (84.5%).
Kenney Named to All-Newcomer Team: Lauren Kenney became Valpo’s first representative on the Horizon League’s All-Newcomer Team for her efforts this season. Despite missing six games with an ankle injury, the junior college transfer ranks 14th in the conference in scoring (10.7 ppg), eighth in rebounding (6.0 rpg), and fifth in field goal percentage (54.2%).
Yet Another Winning Season: Valparaiso has assured itself of finishing with a winning record for the 17th time in the last 19 years. The Crusaders also posted their first winning Horizon League mark since joining the conference prior to last season, when Valpo finished .500 in league play.
Top Five All-Time While Reaching 350 Assists: Launa Hochstetler became the fifth player in school history to reach the 350-assist plateau and now has 362 career assists, needing just five more helpers to match Lisa Diefenthaler’s (1992-1996) fourth place mark of 367 career assists all-time at Valpo.
Four Crusaders Among the League’s Top Scorers: Valpo sports four of the Horizon League’s top-15 scorers this season. Aimee Litka and Launa Hochstetler lead the way ranking ninth and 10th respectively, averaging 11.8 and 11.5 points per game. Agnieszka Kulaga ranks 11th in the conference adding 11.3 points per night while Lauren Kenney is 15th in scoring at 10.7 points per game.
Finishing Better Than Projected: Valpo proved the preseason prognosticators wrong by finishing in a tie for fourth place in the Horizon League standings this season. The Crusaders were tabbed sixth in the preseason poll, but posted their highest conference finish since joining the conference. Green Bay, which won the league after being picked first, was the only team that finished in its projected spot in the conference standings.
Big Time Scorers: Valpo has had six different players score at least 20 points in a game this season. Lauren Kenney and Aimee Litka lead the way having each scored 26 points in a game this year. Agnieszka Kulaga and Launa Hochstetler have both poured in 24 points in a game for season highs. Leah Hochstetler added a season-high 23 points against Chicago State while Sylwia Zabielewicz tallied 20 points earlier this year against Detroit.
Two of the League’s Top Shooters From the Charity Stripe: Agnieszka Kulaga and Launa Hochstetler rank one-two in the Horizon League in free throw shooting this season. Kulaga is on pace to set Valpo’s single season record, currently held by Mo Drabicki of 85.1% set in 1997-1998. Kulaga, who just became eligible (minimum 75 attempts) with 77 tries at the charity stripe, is shooting 88.3% this year while Hochstetler is shooting 84.5%, which currently ranks her fourth on the single season charts.
Litka a Key to Valpo’s Success: Aimee Litka has been a driving force behind Crusader wins this season. When she scores in double figures the Crusaders are 13-3 on the season, while posting just a 2-10 mark when she scores fewer than 10 points. In addition, in Valpo’s victories, the senior is averaging 14.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest compared with 8.7 points and 3.2 boards in losses.
That’s A Lot of Games Played: Launa Hochstetler has moved into the top-10 all-time at Valpo for games played. With the appearance against Youngstown State, she moved into a tie for sixth all-time with 117 career games played. She is now three games shy of Amber Schober (1998-2002), Lauren Bechtold (2002-2006), and Tamra Braun (2003-2007) for third place all-time, as those three played 120 games in a Valpo uniform. Aimee Litka needs to play in two more games to move into the top-10, as she enters play Wednesday having appeared in 114 career games.
Home Court Advantage: Valpo has posted a 9-4 mark at home this season to continue its stellar play at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The Crusaders have not lost more than four home games in a season since 2000-2001 and have posted an 80-24 (.769) record at the ARC since then. This year, Valpo defeated #23/21 Purdue at home and opened the year with a win against Bowling Green.
Among the Best All-time at the Free Throw Line at Valpo: Launa Hochstetler and Agnieszka Kulaga both have surpassed the 225 attempt minimum from the free throw line to qualify on the all-time free throw percentage charts at Valpo. Hochstetler enters the tournament tops all-time as an 84.0% career free throw shooter while Kulaga ranks second making 83.6% of her attempts. Entering this season, Mo Drabicki (1994-1998) was at the top of the list shooting 83.0% for her career.
Kulaga and Litka Move Into Top-20 All-Time at Valpo in Scoring, Hochstetler on the Verge of Scoring List: Agnieszka Kulaga and Aimee Litka continue to chase one another on the all-time scoring charts. Kulaga has moved into 15th place with 952 career points. Litka has moved into 16th place all-time at Valpo with 930 career points, passing Sarah Schmoyer (1992-1996). Kulaga’s now needs 26 more points to match Cheryl Wilbrandt’s (1989-1993) 14th place mark of 978 points while Litka needs 22 more to match Kulaga. Launa Hochstetler is about to move onto the top-20 list as well, needing just two more points to match Kathryn Knoester (2000-2004) with 868 career points while currently entering play with 866 points.
Kulaga Nearing Top-10 with 250 Total Assists: Agnieszka Kulaga had three assists against Milwaukee and now has 253 career assists to move past Megan Newcomer (1996-2000) into 11th place all-time wearing the Brown and Gold. She now trails Kathryn Knoester by just four helpers for 10th on the all-time list.
Litka Moves Into Top-5 All-Time in Triples: Aimee Litka made three more three-pointers against Cleveland State last Thursday evening and has moved into fifth place all-time at Valpo for triples made in a career. Litka now has 168 treys in four seasons, and is just three treys shy of Sarah Lenschow’s fourth place total of 171 threes.
Playing Overtime: Valparaiso’s overtime win against Detroit on January 10 was the Crusaders’ fifth straight victory when playing extra sessions. The Crusaders have not dropped an overtime contest since November 21, 2005, a double-overtime affair against Bradley.
Dialing Long Distance: Valpo made 14 three-point field goals on February 17 as a team against Chicago State, tying for the third most makes ever in a game by a Crusader team. The Brown and Gold also made 13 just a week-and-a-half prior at Loyola (Chicago), ranking that effort eighth on the all-time charts for the team. The Crusaders made 11-of-15 triples in the first 20 minutes against Loyola, and shot 59.1% for the game, tied for the 10th best long range percentage all-time (minimum 10 attempts), while the seventh best shooting night came at Milwaukee, a 9-for-15 (.600) effort.
Talk About a Break Out Game: Leah Hochstetler had her most explosive offensive performance of her career on against Chicago State on February 17, making seven three-pointers on her way to a career-high 23 points. The senior guard’s seven triples tied her for fourth place on Valpo’s single game list all-time from downtown.
Freeman Reaches Several Milestones: Head coach Keith Freeman has reached three milestones already this season. Valpo’s victory against Florida State on November 29 was the 375th of his career overall coaching women’s basketball. He coached his 600th collegiate game at Wright State on January 8 and recorded his 250th victory on the Crusader sidelines on January 10 against Detroit.
Kenney Sets School Record for Free Throws: Lauren Kenney’s 13-for-13 free throw performance against Florida State in the championship is the best single game performance in school history. The junior bettered Lisa Diefenthaler’s 1994 mark of 12-for-12 set against Western Illinois. Debbie Bolen made all 11 of her tosses in 1991 while three others have gone 10-for-10 in a game.
More Solid Free Throw Shooting: As a team, Valpo went 35-of-42 from the line against Florida State, with the 35 makes ranking second all-time in school history. The 42 attempts were tied for fifth most ever in a game, while Lauren Kenney’s 13 makes in the game tie for fifth on the individual charts.
Kulaga and Hochstetler Earn Academic All-District Honors: Agnieszka Kulaga has been named to ESPN The Magazine’s Academic All-District V First Team while Launa Hochstetler was voted to the Second Team as selected by CoSIDA. Kulaga has earned her bachelor’s degree and is now pursing her master’s degree in business administration. Hochstetler is a double major in accounting and finance.
Smart Students as Well as Good Players: Valpo has had four players named U.S. Army Scholar-Athletes of the Week by the Horizon League this year. Aimee Litka received the most recent award on February 6 for the Crusaders. Agnieszka Kulaga earned the first honor on December 19 while Launa Hochstetler captured the accolade one week later on December 26. Ashley Varner earned the third award for Valpo on January 8.
Hochstetler Honored by Horizon League: Launa Hochstetler was named the Horizon League Player of the Week on January 19 for the first time in her career after averaging 21 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.5 steals in victories over UIC and Loyola. The senior guard tied her career high with 24 points against UIC and added 18 points and six assists against the Ramblers. Hochstetler shot 57.1% from the floor, including 3-of-6 from three-point range, and made 7-of-8 free throws in the two games.
Kulaga Earns Two Honors: Agnieszka Kulaga was named the Horizon League’s Player of the Week as well as the Most Valuable Player at the Coors Rocky Mountain Invitational for her stellar play from November 25-29. The senior guard averaged 22 points per game and shot 58.3% for the week in three games while garnering her fourth career conference honor. She scored 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor in the first game of the tournament against Colorado State, then added 22 points, including an 11-of-12 performance from the free throw line, in the championship against Florida State.
Litka Also Named to All-Tournament Team: Aimee Litka also was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Coors Rocky Mountain Invitational. She averaged 17 points and five rebounds per game in the event, including a 20-point effort in the championship against Florida State.
First Win Ever Against a Ranked Foe: The victory against Purdue was the first ever for a Crusader squad against a team ranked in the top-25. Valpo has played three top-25 programs this season, going 1-2 in those games.
Valpo Captures Division I Tournament Title For First Time: Valpo’s win at the Coors Rocky Mountain Invitational was the first tournament title for the Brown and Gold in the Division I era. The last time the Crusaders captured a tourney title was at the Lady Redmen Classic hosted by Carthage in the 1985-1986 season as Valpo downed Lakeland, Carthage, and Clarke.
Kenney Named to Christmas City Classic All-Tournament Team: Lauren Kenney was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Christmas City Classic after averaging 14.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Kenney had 22 points and 14 boards in the opener against La Salle.
Valpo Adds Two for Next Year’s Class: Head coach Keith Freeman has signed two players to National Letters of Intent for the 2009-2010 season. Skyler Gick is a 5’7” guard from Otterbein, Ind. who averaged 15.1 points per game as a junior at Benton Central High School. Laura Richards is a 5’9” guard from Connersville, Ind and averaged 16.0 points an 5.2 rebounds per game a year ago at Connersville High School.