Leah Hochstetler (Berlin, Ohio/Hiland H.S.) scored a career-high 23 points, making seven three-point field goals while twin sister Launa Hochstetler (Berlin, Ohio/Hiland H.S.) recorded a double-double with 11 points and a career-high 11 assists to lead Valparaiso to a 69-60 non-conference victory over Chicago State on Tuesday evening at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Leah hit five triples after intermission to lead four Crusaders in double digits on the evening, and also grabbed a career-high six rebounds in the win.
“Leah was made for a game like this with them playing a 1-3-1 zone,” head coach Keith Freeman said afterwards. “She also did a very nice job of rebounding the basketball.”
She helped the Crusaders expand upon a four-point halftime lead, hitting her first triple of the second half just 20 seconds into the stanza. After the Cougars cut the lead to three, 40-34, she started a 9-0 run which saw Agnieszka Kulaga (Tarnow, Poland/I Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace H.S.) and Launa follow with triples.
Chicago State (13-12) answered with a 12-3 run of its own to cut the lead down to 49-46 with 12:44 to play, but again Leah stepped up, draining a trey to extend the advantage. Her fourth triple of the half at the 9:30 mark extended the lead to 10, 60-50, and the Crusaders never saw the lead drop under eight the rest of the way.
The Cougars jumped on top early in the game, taking a 15-5 lead just five minutes into the contest. From there, four straight long range field goals, two by Leah, one by Launa, and one by Rashida Ray (Fort Wayne, Ind./Harding H.S.) ignited a 21-4 run hat put Valpo on top, a lead the Crusaders would not relinquish.
Valpo ran the lead out to seven twice in the first half before settling for a 34-30 lead at halftime.
Kulaga scored 12 points and Lauren Kenney (Mooresville, Ind./Mooresville H.S.) came off of the bench to give the Crusaders four players in double figures on the evening. Kenney also grabbed a game-high seven rebounds as Valpo outboarded the Cougars 39-26, including a 14-7 advantage on the offensive end.
“I thought Lauren did a better job on the defensive boards,” said Freeman. “She just needs to continue to get back to playing how she was before (her ankle injury).”
For Launa, it marked her first career double-double, after just missing one on Saturday evening at UIC while grabbing a career-high nine rebounds. Her previous assist high entering Tuesday’s game was also nine.
“Launa’s a heady player and throws passes you don’t see,” Freeman added. “Most of the time her decision making is very good. She is just a great play-maker.”
The Crusaders finished the game 14-of-32 (43.8%) from three-point range, tying for the third most triples ever in a game by a Valpo team. The Crusaders shot 45.6% from the floor on the night, while Chicago State connected at 48.1%.
Jasmin Dixon led three Cougars in double figures with 17 points while Natalie Marlowe added 14 and Jael Pena had 10.
“Their length bothered us and they can take it off of the dribble,” concluded Freeman. “They are much improved over what we used to see from Chicago State. Our kids did a good job of making adjustments through the course of the game though.”
Valparaiso (13-11) will continue its three-game homestand on Saturday afternoon with a key Horizon League contest against second place Butler. Tip-off at the ARC is set for 1:35 p.m. and is a “WBCA Pink Zone” game in the fight against breast cancer. The game can be seen live on the Horizon League Network or heard live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpoathletics.com.
Game Notes: Valpo is now a perfect 19-0 all-time at home against Chicago State and 34-4 all-time overall … the Crusaders have won three straight meetings between the two schools … Kulaga moved into 17th place alone on Valpo’s career scoring list with 888 career points … Launa Hochstetler now has 336 career assists, just four shy of Shari Toelke (1990-1994) for fifth place all-time at Valpo … Leah Hochstetler’s seven three-pointers tie for fourth on the Crusaders’ single game list … the team’s 32 three-point field goal attempts tie for fifth most in a game in school history (also attempted 32 at Detroit this season) … Valpo’s 20 assists were one off of a season high … Valpo finished non-conference play with a 6-5 record.