Game #9: Wednesday, December 12, 6 p.m. CST
Valpo (3-5, 0-0 Horizon)
at #17/17 Notre Dame (8-1, 0-0 Big East)
Joyce Center (11,418) - Notre Dame, Ind.
Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: Valparaiso is set to take its three-game winning streak on the road Wednesday night as the Crusaders head down the Indiana Toll Road to battle nationally-ranked Notre Dame. Valpo is facing its second ranked opponent of the season in the #17/17-ranked Fighting Irish after having battled then #20 Purdue to a three-point defeat one month ago.
On the Air: Wednesday’s game against Notre Dame will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. Adam Tein and Maggie Foley will call all the action live from the Joyce Center. All 29 regular season games will be broadcast live over the internet in addition to many games on the radio.
Series Notes: Valparaiso and Notre Dame are meeting on the hardwood for the 21st time in a series that dates back to December 3, 1977, a 48-41 Fighting Irish victory. The Crusaders are looking for their first win ever against the Fighting Irish and are 0-9 all-time in Notre Dame. Five of the last six games in the series have been decided by 10 points or less, including a 60-59 Notre Dame victory last year at the ARC, in a game that the Fighting Irish won with a free throw with 1.2 seconds remaining.
Wrapping Up North Texas: Agnieszka Kulaga tallied career highs in points, rebounds, and assists and Valparaiso made 7-of-10 first half three-pointers as the Crusaders defeated North Texas 73-61 on Saturday afternoon at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Kulaga scored 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting while grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out five assists. Valpo used a 12-2 run in the first half to break the game open, and scored the first six points in the second half to push the lead to 19. Aimee Litka had 15 points while Sarah Ott added 11 more for the Brown and Gold.
Scouting Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish enter the game ranked #17 in the country while riding a six-game winning streak. Notre Dame is coming off of a 61-48 victory at Purdue on Saturday and has an average scoring margin of +25.2 on the season. Charel Allen leads the way for the Fighting Irish averaging 13.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Ashley Barlow is adding 13.1 points per contest while Lindsay Schrader scores 12.2 points and grabs 6.6 boards per night.
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 on 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.
Taking Care of the Basketball of Late: After committing 50 turnovers and having just 27 assists in the first two games of the season, Valpo’s production has been much better over the last six games. The Crusaders have averaged just two more turnovers than assists during the span. On the season, Launa Hochstetler leads the way with 26 helpers while committing just 15 miscues.
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 87.0% (20-of-23) 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 8.0 three-pointers per contest. Six different Crusaders are averaging at least one triple per night. Leah and Launa Hochstetler lead the way connecting on 50.0% and 48.1% from long range respectively. As a team, Valpo is shooting 39.3% from beyond the arc, ahead of last year’s 37.4% pace, which was best in school history. The Crusaders’ 39.3% shooting also ranks 14th in the nation.
Litka Quietly Racks Up Points Consistently: Aimee Litka is second on the squad averaging 11.8 points per game. The junior has scored in double figures in seven of Valpo’s eight contests this season. With the exception of the Cincinnati game, Litka has tallied between 10 and 16 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 is 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.
Double Trouble for Kulaga: Agnieszka Kulaga has tallied double figures in seven straight contests beginning at Purdue in the second game of the season. The junior guard has increased her production of late, averaging 21.7 points per contest over the last three games. During that span Kulaga has tallied at least 18 points in each game, including a career-high 26 against North Texas.
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. 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 is the fourth team this season that is 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.