By Mark DeHaan
The Calvin men's basketball team matched up against Albion College for the second time in five days on Wednesday evening at Van Noord Arena. Wednesday's game at Van Noord Arena turned out to be a little closer than Saturday, but the result was the same as the Knights earned a 64-55 win.
Hope faced Trine in the other tournament semifinal on Wednesday inside DeVos Fieldhouse, where the Flying Dutchmen came out on top 65-62 in overtime. Calvin will travel to Hope on Saturday for the MIAA Tournament Championship game at 3 p.m.
The Knights were coming off an 83-57 defeat of the Britons in the regular season finale on Saturday, during which Calvin claimed a 47-21 lead by halftime and never looked back. With a regular season conference record of 12-2, Calvin earned the second seed in the conference tournament while Albion was third at 8-6, setting up the rematch for tonight.
The Knights jumped out to an 8-2 lead to start the game, but Albion refused to be outplayed early as it had on Saturday.
The Britons came back, closing to within one at 13-12. Calvin responded, led by junior Jordan Brink (Dyer, IN/Illiana Christian HS) and senior Tyler Kruis (Grand Rapids/Calvin Christian HS), to take a 32-25 advantage at half.
Kruis scored 14 points in the first half, shooting 5-of-6 from the field, while Brink added 10 points and dished out five assists.
Out of the break, an 8-2 run for Calvin gave the Knights their largest lead of the game at 40-27 with 16:14 remaining.
Albion then whittled its deficit to down 53-47 with 7:28 remaining. The Knights responded by playing shut down defense, holding the Britons to without a field goal for nearly four minutes.
A tip-in by junior Tyler Dykstra (Holland/Holland Christian HS) then helped seal the win with 1:24 to go as Calvin took a 61-51 lead. The Knights hit three out of four free throws down the stretch to close out the 64-55 victory.
The Knights shot 45.7% from the field for the game, outrebounding Albion 35-25.
Brink led the Knights on offense with 21 points, six assists and five rebounds while Kruis added 18 points and five boards. Brink connected on a pair of three-pointers in the win to move past Kevin Broene and into 10th place on the Calvin career three-point field goal list.
For Albion, Lawrence Ridgell, Jordan Herron, and Eric Evans all scored 13 points.
"When you get to this time of the year it's more mental and understanding, tweaking things here and there, it's not as much conditioning," said head coach Kevin Vande Streek. "We've been working for the past few weeks to get back to the MIAA Tournament final. Hope is kind of the king right now, and if you want to be the king, you have to beat the king."
Saturday's game against the Flying Dutchmen marks the tenth straight year Calvin and Hope have met in the MIAA tournament, and the eighth time in the tournament final in that ten year span.
With the win, Calvin moves to 21-5 while Albion's season ends at 14-12.