GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Calvin men's basketball team hosted the Hope College Flying Dutchmen on Wednesday evening in the 194th edition of The Rivalry series. The contest marked the final game in the first half of the MIAA schedule. First place in the conference standings was at stake as the Dutchmen entered the contest with a perfect 6-0 conference record, while the Knights sat a game behind at 5-1.
Hope was picked as favorite in the MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll in October, while Calvin was ranked fifth. Both teams were coming off Saturday victories with Hope claiming a 78-58 win at Kalamazoo while Calvin defeated Adrian 79-67 at home.
The Dutchmen improved their win streak to seven games, defeating the Knights 87-67 to remain in sole possession of first place in the conference. Despite closely contested first half, the Dutchmen used a 12-0 run in the final minutes before halftime to earn a 17-point advantage that the Knights were unable to recover from.
With the victory, Hope improves to 14-4 overall and 7-0 in the MIAA, while Calvin drops to 10-8 with a 5-2 conference mark. Hope leads The Rivalry series 101-93.
"In the first half I thought we were pretty locked in and executed things how we wanted to, but in the last three minutes it was kind of an unraveling," said Calvin men's basketball head coach Kevin Vande Streek. "In the second half, we just didn't string enough things together, whether it was stops or baskets. We were a little inconsistent."
The teams exchanged points in the first minutes of the game until the Knights used a five-point run to take a 10-4 lead. Three minutes into the contest, MIAA Player of the Week, Michael Wilks (Hudsonville, Mich./Unity Christian HS), knocked down a pair of free throws to put the Knights up by three. Senior Cam Denney (Bluffton, Ind./Norwell HS) followed, hitting a deep three-point field goal.
Despite the strong start by the Knights, the Hope offense began to heat up. The Dutchmen went on a 10-0 run, holding the home team scoreless for nearly four minutes. With just over 12 minutes to play in the first half, Calvin trailed Hope 16-12.
As the midpoint of the half neared, the two teams went back-and-forth in scoring, with Hope holding on to its lead. With 8:06 left before halftime, Denney snagged an offensive rebound from his own shot and put it back to cut the deficit to five points.
Following a Dutchmen timeout, Hope's Teddy Ray hit a triple to put his team up by eight. Calvin junior Tony Canonie (South Haven, Mich./South Haven HS) answered Ray in the next possession, knocking down a three-pointer of his own. However, the Dutchmen continued to roll offensively, as Harrison Blackledge scored five straight points to give Hope a 10-point lead and force a Calvin timeout with 4:45 left on the clock.
Coming out of the timeout, Calvin senior Nick Kronemeyer (Hamilton, Mich./Hamilton HS) halted the Dutchmen momentum, capitalizing on a three-point play to make the score 33-26.
By way of free throws, Calvin was able to come within five points of Hope with 2:42 remaining before halftime.
However, the Dutchmen found their groove in the final minutes of the half, going on a 12-0 run. As the teams headed into the locker room at the break, Hope held a commanding 47-30 lead.
The Knights struggled to contain Hope's offense in the first half as the Dutchmen shot 54.5% (18-33) from the field and 53.8% (7-13) from behind the three-point arc. Hope's Chad Carlson led all players with 13 points at the half (4-6 FG, 3-5 3-PT, 2-2 FT). On the other end of the floor, Calvin shot 32.1% (9-28) from the field and 22.2% (2-9) from three-point range.
The Knights scored first out of the break, but Blackledge responded for the Dutchmen with six straight points. Hope led by 21, its largest lead of the game. Back-to-back three-pointers from the Knights, courtesy of sophomore Lucas Van Boxel (Montague, Mich./Montague HS) and Wilks, revived the home team. However, Calvin still trailed 53-38 with 15:48 left to play.
Calvin would come within 15 points of the Dutchmen three more times, but were unable to narrow the deficit any further. The Knights struggled to stop Hope's strong offensive effort, led by Blackledge who had 16 second-half points.
Blackledge led all players with 25 points (10-19 FG, 2-4 3-PT, 3-3 FT) and also led the Dutchmen with seven rebounds. Carlson and Cody Stuive followed, finishing with 15 and 11 points, respectively. Hope shot 50.8% from the field (33-65) and 39.1% from 3-point range (9-23) on the evening.
Wilks led the Knights' offense with 18 points. Denney posted a double-double, recording 15 points and a game-high 17 rebounds, along with five assists. Seniors Michael Welch (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS) and Kronemeyer chipped in nine and seven points, respectively.
The Knights' three-game home stand will come to a close this Saturday when they host Trine University. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.