Game #10: Sunday, December 16, 1:35 p.m. CST
South Dakota State (6-4, 1-1 Summit)
at Valpo (3-6, 0-0 Horizon)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: Valparaiso returns to the Athletics-Recreation Center on Sunday afternoon as the Crusaders host South Dakota State. This is the first of three straight home games for the Crusaders to wrap up the non-conference portion of the schedule heading into Horizon League play.
On the Air: Sunday’s game against South Dakota State will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. Adam Amin and Eric Brooks 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 South Dakota State are meeting on the hardwood for the first time ever. The Crusaders and Jackrabbits are slated to meet against next season in Brookings, S.D.
Wrapping Up Notre Dame: Valparaiso committed 27 turnovers which led to 35 Fighting Irish points as #17 Notre Dame defeated the Crusaders 94-56 on Wednesday evening in Notre Dame, Ind. Runs of 14-2 and 9-0 during the first half broke the game open for the hosts, as the Fighting Irish built a 25-point halftime advantage. Valpo then committed turnovers on the first five possessions of the second half and saw its deficit grow to 33 just two minutes into the final period. Aimee Litka led Valpo with a career-high 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor. Agnieszka Kulaga added nine points and a career-best seven assists for the Brown and Gold.
Scouting South Dakota State: The Jackrabbits are wrapping up a seven-game road trip in Valparaiso following a 66-62 loss at Wisconsin on Friday night. South Dakota State has posted a 2-4 mark on the trip thus far. The Jackrabbits have been without their top two scorers for the past couple of games. Stacie Oistad averaged 19.0 points per contest for the first two games of the season while Ketty Cornemann averaged 13.7 points per contest in six games. Maria Boever has started ever game this year and is tallying 12.3 points per contest along with 6.8 rebounds per game. Kristin Rotert also is scoring 12.0 points per night while shooting 43.5% from three-point range.
Kulaga Earns Player of the Week Honors after Career Game: Agnieszka Kulaga was named Valpo’s first-ever Horizon League Player of the Week after turning in a career effort last Saturday 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.
Litka Coming off of Career High: Aimee Litka posted a career-high 17 points on Wednesday night playing in her hometown. The native of South Bend, Ind. made 6-of-9 shots from the floor against Notre Dame to better her previous career mark of 16 points.
Kulaga Dishes the Rock: Agnieszka Kulaga tallied a career-high seven assists for the Brown and Gold against Notre Dame. The junior point guard is eighth in the Horizon League averaging 3.3 helpers per night while her 1.15 assist-to-turnover ratio is seventh best in the league. Kulaga also scored nine points against the Fighting Irish, snapping her string of seven consecutive double figure scoring contests.
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 88.0% (22-of-25) 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 ninth in the nation averaging 7.7 three-pointers per contest. Five different Crusaders are averaging at least one triple per night. Launa Hochstetler leads the way connecting on 48.1% from long range. As a team, Valpo is shooting 39.9% from beyond the arc, ahead of last year’s 37.4% pace, which was best in school history. The Crusaders’ shooting also ranks 14th in the nation.
Litka Quietly Racks Up Points Consistently: Aimee Litka is second on the squad averaging 12.3 points per game. The junior has scored in double figures in eight of Valpo’s nine contests this season. With the exception of the Cincinnati game, Litka has tallied between 10 and 17 points every night.
Brief Interruption in the Homestand: Valpo is in the midst of five out of six games at home at the ARC. This contest at Notre Dame was the only road game during the Crusaders’ stretch of games spanning more than a month. Valpo does not have an overnight road trip for two months between Thanksgiving and the end of January.
Home Sweet Home: Valpo has had constant success at the ARC over the past seven years. With wins in the first two home games of 2007-2008, the Crusaders have pushed their home court winning streak to eight 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 64-16 (.800) record at the ARC.
Solid Season From the Charity Stripe: Valpo currently ranks 19th in NCAA Division I shooting 76.6% from the free throw line through games of December 9. Eight different Crusaders are currently shooting better than 73% 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.
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.
Who Made This Schedule?: Valparaiso is playing 10 of its 29 regular season games against teams that participated in either the 2007 NCAA Tournament or the WNIT. In the preseason polls (USA Today and Associated Press), seven of Valpo’s opponents were either ranked or receiving votes in at least one of the two. Notre Dame was the fourth team this season that was either ranked or receiving votes when the Crusaders took the court against them.
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.