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Flying Dutchmen Win At Adrian For Outright MIAA Championship

Ben Gardner

 

Forward Caleb Byers scored a career-high 19 points to help the Hope College men's basketball team clinch the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association title outright with a 73-56 win at Adrian College on Saturday.

The senior from Allegan (Allegan HS) shot 87.5 percent from the floor (7-of-8) and 83.3 percent from the foul line (5-of-6) to pass his previous best of 16 points.

The Flying Dutchmen pushed their win streak to 11 games as they improved to 19-6 overall and 13-1 in MIAA play. Hope will be the No. 1 seed for next week's league tournament.

"It's certainly something we've worked toward for a long time," Hope coach Matt Neil said of the Flying Dutchmen's 31st outright MIAA championship and 37th league title overall.

"We were determined not to share it with anybody. Those are the best kind of championships. The championship is the fun that comes after a lot of hard work."

This is the fifth time the Hope men's and women's basketball teams have been MIAA champs in the same season.

Hope earned its title-clinching win by outscoring Adrian 39-21 during the second half.

"They shot 29 percent from the floor in the second half," Neil said. "We settled it and figured out what to do to stop their dribble drive and what to do to deny their passes. We defended and rebounded. Those were huge keys."

Sophomore guard Ben Gardner of Carmel, Ind. (Carmel HS), also scored in double figures with 11 points.

The Flying Dutchmen return to action on Wednesday, Feb. 26, when they host fourth-seeded Trine in the MIAA Tournament semifinals. Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. at DeVos Fieldhouse.

The winner advances to the championship game on Saturday, March 1, at 3 p.m. to face either Calvin College or Albion College at the site of the highest remaining seed.

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