Game #11: December 22, 1:35 p.m. CST
Saint Xavier (7-2, 0-0 CCAC)
at Valpo (4-6, 0-0 Horizon)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: After a week off for final exams, Valparaiso returns to the hardwood on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders host Saint Xavier. This is Valpo’s final contest of the 2007 calendar year as well as the final tune-up prior to Horizon League play beginning on January 5.
On the Air: Saturday’s game against Saint Xavier will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. Nick Kovatch and Maggie Foley will call all the action live from the Athletics-Recreation Center. All 29 regular season games will be broadcast live over the internet in addition to many games on the radio. In addition, the game can be viewed live online as part of the Horizon League Network at www.horizonleaguenetwork.tv.
Series Notes: Valparaiso and Saint Xavier are meeting for just the second time ever, and the first at the Athletics-Recreation Center. In the only previous meeting, on November 28, 2004, the Crusaders defeated the Cougars 67-51. The game was played in Gary, Ind. as part of the Valparaiso State Farm Classic.
Wrapping Up South Dakota State: Leah Hochstetler drilled a three-pointer with 48 seconds remaining, then added two free throws with 5.4 seconds remaining as Valpo defeated the Jackrabbits 65-62 at the ARC on Sunday afternoon. The game was tied at 31 at intermission, but the Crusaders scored 10 of the first 12 points in the second half to take the lead. South Dakota State rallied, taking a six-point lead of its own before Agnieszka Kulaga’s jumper tied the contest with five minutes to play, setting up the finish. Kulaga led the Crusaders with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor while Aimee Litka added 11 points and tied a career-high with five assists.
Scouting Saint Xavier: The Cougars opened the season with six straight victories but have dropped two of their last three contests following a 64-59 defeat to Loyola (La.) on Tuesday afternoon at the Disney Classic. Erin Hannemann, who leads Saint Xavier in scoring averaging 13.7 points per game, has twice been named Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Week. Jackie Heine adds 12.3 points per game while Kathlyn McClain adds 10.4 points per night for the Cougars, which are averaging 83.3 points per game as a team.
Hochstetler Named Scholar-Athlete of the Week: Leah Hochstetler is this week’s U.S. Army Horizon League Scholar-Athlete of the Week after lifting the Crusaders to victory against South Dakota State. The junior guard scored all five of her points in the final minute, including the game-winning three-pointer. In the classroom, Hochstetler has a 3.87 grade point average as a nursing major.
Valpo in 2007: With the game against Saint Xavier wrapping up the calendar year for Valpo, the Crusaders are looking for win number 20 during 2007. Valpo enters the contest with a 19-10 mark beginning with the 79-58 victory against Huntington back on January 3.
Litka Has Career Week for Crusaders: Aimee Litka began last week scoring a career-high 17 points for Valpo at Notre Dame. The junior followed that up on Sunday by tying her career highs in both steals and assists. Litka had three thefts and five helpers against South Dakota State.
Tough Non-Conference Schedule Comes to a Close: Valpo’s strength of schedule thus far this season is 91st among all 339 Division I programs according to collegerpi.com. The Crusaders RPI sits at 157 through games of December 19, even with the 4-6 record. All six of Valpo’s defeats have come to teams ranked in the top 100 of the rpi.
Making Free Throws in Crunch Time: With the game on the line in the closing minutes, Valparaiso has been solid from the free throw stripe this season. Valpo is shooting 89.7% (26-of-29) as a team from the charity stripe in the game’s final two minutes. Agnieszka Kulaga has been virtually automatic in pressure situations, connecting on 13-of-14 tosses (92.9%) with the clock winding down.
For Three: Valpo currently leads the Horizon League and ranks 16th in the nation averaging 7.5 three-pointers per contest. Five different Crusaders are averaging at least one triple per night. Launa Hochstetler leads the way connecting on 48.4% from long range. As a team, Valpo is shooting 39.5% from beyond the arc, ahead of last year’s 37.4% pace, which was best in school history. The Crusaders’ shooting percentage also ranks 12th in the nation.
Litka Quietly Racks Up Points Consistently: Aimee Litka is second on the squad averaging 12.2 points per game. The junior has scored in double figures in nine of Valpo’s 10 contests this season. With the exception of the Cincinnati game, Litka has tallied between 10 and 17 points every night.
Home Sweet Home: Valpo has had constant success at the ARC over the past seven years. With wins in the first three home games of 2007-2008, the Crusaders have pushed their home court winning streak to nine consecutive games. Valpo has not dropped a home game since January 15, 2007 against Oakland. Since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Valpo has posted a 65-16 (.802) record at the ARC.
Solid Season From the Charity Stripe: Valpo currently ranks 9th in NCAA Division I shooting 78.0% from the free throw line through games of December 16. Nine different Crusaders are currently shooting better than 77% on the season. In Valpo’s win against Central Connecticut State, the Crusaders turned in a 90% shooting performance from the free throw line, making 27-of-30 attempts on the game.
Kulaga Earns Player of the Week Honors after Career Game: Agnieszka Kulaga was named Valpo’s first-ever Horizon League Player of the Week on December 10 after turning in a career effort against North Texas. The junior guard scored a career-best 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the floor while grabbing a career-high eight rebounds. She also tied her career mark with five assists in the win.
Crusaders in the Hoosier Classic: With the win against Ball State, Valparaiso has now posted a 6-2 record all-time in the Hoosier Classic, tying Indiana State for the best mark among the four schools that have competed in the annual event over the past eight years. With Valpo and Butler now members of the Horizon League together, the 2007 edition was the final chapter in this Indiana event.
A Three-rific Performance against Purdue: The Crusaders made their first five triples at Purdue on the way to making 11-of-17 (64.7%) three-pointers on the night. It was the fourth best shooting percentage for the team in a single game in school history (minimum 10 attempts).
Valpo Picked Fifth in Horizon League Race: Valparaiso has been tabbed to finish in fifth place in the Horizon League in its inaugural season according to the preseason poll conducted of the league’s head coaches, sports information directors, and selected media outlets. Milwaukee was picked to win the league followed by nine-time defending regular season champion Green Bay.
Valpo Adds Two for Next Year’s Class: Head coach Keith Freeman has signed two players to National Letters of Intent. Lauren Kenney is a 6’0" forward from Moorsville, Ind. who is currently playing at Lincoln Trail College. Sylwia Zabielewicz is a 6’6" center from Warsaw, Poland who is currently playing at Midland College. Both players will have two years of eligibility remaining.