GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Calvin rode the hot hand of junior shooting guard Tony DeWitte to claim an 81-76 victory over league-leading Trine Wednesday night at Van Noord Arena.
DeWitte poured in a career-high 29 points on 9 of 14 shooting including 7 of 9 from three-point range. DeWitte scored 18 of his 29 points in the first half.
The victory bumps Calvin into a tie for third place with Olivet in the MIAA standings at 7-4 in league play, one game behind 8-3 Trine and two games behind 9-2 Albion with three conference games left to play.
Calvin (12-10 overall) raced out to a 28-16 first half lead with DeWitte scoring 12 of Calvin's opening 28 points. DeWitte drained another triple with 49 seconds left in the half and freshman Carson Meulenberg (Grand Rapids, Mich./Covenant Christian HS) converted a layup in the closing seconds to give Calvin a 44-31 halftime lead.
DeWitte hit another triple in the opening moments of the second half to put the Knights up 47-33 and continued to counter Trine runs, hitting another 3 at the 15:35 mark and yet another a minute later to keep the Knights up 57-45. Meulenberg added a steal and fast-break dunk while junior Jason Walter (Coloma, Mich./Coloma HS) threw down a two-handed flush of his own to put the Knights up 64-51. Sharp-shooting Trine point guard Pete Smith kept the Thunder in the game with a trio of triples in a span of two minutes to keep the deficit at 10.
Trine (15-7) began to whittle down Calvin's lead and crept to within five after a jumper by senior post Ellis Cummings and a three-pointer by guard Marcus Winters.
Senior Carlos Amoros-Gutierrez (Wyoming, Mich./Wyoming HS) knocked in a clutch 3 to give Calvin a 77-69 lead with 3:14 remaining. Trine countered with a 7-2 run culminated by a fadeaway 3 by Smith that brought the Thunder within 79-76 with nine seconds left. Amoros-Gutierrez was fouled with 6.6 seconds remaining and connected on both ends of a bonus opportunity to seal the win.
Amoros-Gutierrez added 14 points for Calvin while senior Austin Bykerk (Jenison, Mich./Unity Christian HS) had 11 points, five assists and a career-high 14 rebounds. Bykerk also blocked three shots. Meulenberg was a game-changed for the Knights, scoring seven points, grabbing three rebounds, dishing out four assists and blocking a career-high four shots, two of which came on Trine fast-break attempts. Walter also played a key role, scoring nine points along with two rebounds.
After connecting on 19 of 28 from three-point range in a Monday night win at Alma, Calvin continued its strong perimeter shooting on Wednesday, hitting 12 of 23 (.463) from beyond the arc.
"The past four games we've been on a bit of a roll," said DeWitte. "We're just staying hot and staying focused." DeWitte's career-high scoring performance was 11 points higher than his previous high. "My teammates were finding me coming off screens." said DeWitte. "Everyone was playing good. We got the ball inside, kicked it out, had some good ball movement and got some good shots. It was a good team win."
Calvin finished the game with a 34-32 rebounding advantage. The Knights also turned the ball just six times while amassing 21 assists. Trine was led in scoring by Smith who tallied 26 while Langston Johnson had 18.
Calvin will now prepare to travel to Kalamazoo for a critical Saturday road contest with opening tip set for 3 p.m.