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Crusader Women Begin Final Road Trip Thursday at Cleveland State
Agnieszka Kulaga and the Crusaders look to remain perfect all-time at Cleveland State on Thursday. (Ray Acevedo)
Agnieszka Kulaga and the Crusaders look to remain perfect all-time at Cleveland State on Thursday. (Ray Acevedo)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Game #28: March 5, 2009, 6 p.m. CST
Valparaiso (15-12, 9-7 Horizon)
at Cleveland State (18-10, 12-4 Horizon)
Wolstein Center (8,500) - Cleveland, Ohio

Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: Valparaiso takes to the road for the final two games of the regular season, beginning on Thursday evening with a key Horizon League battle at Cleveland State.  The Crusaders are looking to hold on to the fourth spot in the conference standings to solidify a home game in the quarterfinals of the league tournament which begins next week.

On the Air: Thursday’s game against Cleveland 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 and Adam Tein will call all of the action live from the Wolstein Center.  Live stats are also available via Gametracker through valpoathletics.com.

Series Notes: Valparaiso leads the all-time series against the Vikings 11-4, and looks to continue what is currently a perfect 7-0 record in Cleveland, Ohio.  Cleveland State has won two of the last three meetings between the two schools though, including a 68-55 win at the ARC back on January 5.  In that first meeting, Jessica Roque led all scorers with 17 points for the Vikings, which built a 17-point halftime lead.  Betsy Adams and Whitney Farris both led the Crusaders with 14 points off of the bench.

Wrapping Up Milwaukee: Valpo rallied from a three-point halftime deficit behind 26 points from Lauren Kenney, and defeated the Panthers 67-64 on Saturday afternoon for a Senior Day victory at the ARC.  The Crusaders committed just eight turnovers in the victory and also got 17 points from Agnieszka Kulaga.  Lindsay Laur led Milwaukee off of the bench with 17 points and 14 rebounds.

Scouting Cleveland State: The Vikings enter the final weekend tied with Butler for second place in the Horizon League.  Cleveland State has won eight of its last nine games, including five straight, following a 67-62 victory at Loyola (Chicago) on Saturday.  The Vikings are 10-2 at home this season, including 6-1 in Horizon League action.  Kailey Klein leads four Vikings in double figures averaging 17.2 points per game, second in the Horizon League.  Defensively, the Vikings lead the conference allowing opponents to shoot just 37.1% from the floor.

Finally Coming From Behind: Valparaiso’s victory against Milwaukee marked just the second time this season in 11 tries that Valpo has rallied from a halftime deficit to win.  The only other time the Crusaders came from behind  was on December 10 against #21 Purdue, when the Brown and Gold rallied from 34-30 down at the break to win 71-60.

Kenney Returns to Old Form: Lauren Kenney showed how important she was early in the season prior to her ankle injury on Saturday afternoon, scoring a career-high 26 points against Milwaukee.  The junior college transfer has been battling her way back since returning to the lineup at the end of January.    Against the Panthers she was 8-of-10 from the field and 10-of-12 from the free throw line while grabbing eight rebounds, including five on the offensive end of the floor.

Yet Another .500 Season: With its victory over Milwaukee on Saturday, Valparaiso has assured itself of finishing .500 or better for the 17th time in the last 19 years.  The Crusaders have also guaranteed their second straight .500 Horizon League mark since joining the conference prior to last season.

Top Five All-Time While Reaching 350 Assists: Launa Hochstetler became the fifth player in school history to reach the 350-assist plateau on Saturday afternoon with five helpers against Milwaukee.  Hochstetler now needs just 17 more assists to match Lisa Diefenthaler’s (1992-1996) fourth place mark of 367 career assists.

Crusaders Among the League’s Top Scorers: Valpo sports four of the Horizon League’s top-13 scorers this season.  Launa Hochstetler and Aimee Litka lead the way ranking eighth and ninth respectively, averaging 12.0 and 11.7 points per game.  Agnieszka Kulaga ranks 12th in the conference adding 11.2 points per night while Lauren Kenney is 13th in scoring at 10.8 points per game.

A Tight Race: With two games remaining in the regular season, Valpo currently sits in fourth place, one game ahead of fifth place UIC and Wright State in the race to host the final quarterfinal in the Horizon League Tournament.  The Crusaders have clinched a first round bye for the upcoming championships, and with their next win can be assured of no lower than a fifth place finish, as UIC and Wright State play one another on Saturday.

Cutting Down on Miscues: Valpo had a season-low eight turnovers on Saturday afternoon against Milwaukee.  The Crusaders have averaged just 15.6 turnovers in conference play this season, tied with Green Bay for the fewest of any Horizon League team.

That’s A Lot of Games Played: Launa Hochstetler moved into the top-10 all-time at Valpo for games played on Saturday against Milwaukee with her 115th appearance of her career in a Brown and Gold uniform, matching  Cheryl Wilbrandt’s (1989-1993) mark.  She is one game shy of Jamie Gutowski (2002-2006) and Betsy Rietema (2003-2007) for eighth place all-time, as those two played in 116 games in a Valpo uniform, something she should reach against Cleveland State on Thursday.

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.  Since that game, the Falcons have not lost, winning 25 consecutive games.

Among the Nation’s Best at the Free Throw Line This Year...: Agnieszka Kulaga and Launa Hochstetler rank 13th and 39th respectively in all of NCAA Division I at the free throw line this season through games of March 1.  Kulaga also leads the Horizon League shooting 88.3% (68-of-77) from the line this year while  Hochstetler is an 84.3% (91-of-108) shooter this year.

... and Also All-time 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 game tops all-time as an 83.9% 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: Agnieszka Kulaga and Aimee Litka continue to chase one another on the all-time scoring charts.  Kulaga has moved into 15th place passing Sarah Schmoyer (1992-1996) with 927 career points after scoring 17 against Milwaukee on Saturday.  Litka has moved into 17th place all-time at Valpo with 906 career points, passing Heidi Diefenthaler (1992-1996).  Kulaga’s next jump will be a big one as she needs 51 more points to match Cheryl Wilbrandt’s (1989-1993) 14th place mark of 978 points while Litka needs 14 more to match Schmoyer for 16th place.  Litka is 21 points shy of Kulaga.

Kulaga Nearing Top-10 with 250 Total Assists: Agnieszka Kulaga had two assists against Milwaukee and now has 250 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 seven 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 Milwaukee on Saturday afternoon and has moved into fifth place all-time at Valpo for triples made in a career.  Litka now has 165 treys in four seasons, and is six triples shy of Sarah Lenschow’s fourth place total of 171 threes.