Head coach Greg Mitchell and his Hope College men's basketball team talk about how wins come in all shapes and sizes throughout a season.
A come-from-behind, 83-76 overtime win against Trine on Wednesday at DeVos Fieldhouse was uniquely gratifying for a number of reasons - not limited to the fact the Flying Dutchmen clinched an outright Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association title.
Hope, ranked 21st in this week's D3hoops.com poll, became MIAA champions for the 39th time in team history after outscoring the Thunder 12-5 during the five-minute overtime and second-place Calvin lost 68-66 to Alma.
"This one showed our resolve, our toughness and our togetherness," Mitchell said. "We have more attainable goals we're shooting for, but it feels really, really good to sew it up."
The MIAA title is the second in a row for the Flying Dutchmen and the second in three seasons under Mitchell's direction.
Hope (18-4 overall) is now 11-0 in MIAA play. The Flying Dutchmen are four games ahead of Alma and Calvin with three league games remaining.
Hope forced overtime by not letting Trine (11-11, 6-5) score on the final possession of regulation, then opening the overtime period with the first 11 points.
Senior guard Mitchell O'Brien of Manteno, Illinois (Bishop McNamara) began overtime with a 3-pointer. He finished with 10 points off the bench.
Junior guard Dante Hawkins of Holland, Michigan (Holland) and senior forward Cody Stuive of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville) topped the Flying Dutchmen with 24 and 21 points, respectively. It was a career-high for Stuive.
Both Stuive and Hawkins played 42 of a possible 45 minutes. Stuive also contributed nine rebounds, five steals and four blocks, while Hawkins added a team-high five assists.
The Flying Dutchmen overcame a 49-39 deficit with 15 minutes, 5 seconds remaining in the second half.
Hope rallied, despite getting limited minutes from senior forward Harrison Blackledge of Canton, Ohio (Hoover HS) because of foul trouble and a cool shooting night from senior guard and reigning MIAA Player of the Week Chad Carlson of Rockford, Michigan (Rockford).
Blackledge finished with eight points — four of which came in overtime on free throws.
Sophomore forward Dennis Towns of Flint, Michigan (Powers Catholic) netted eight points off the bench.
Hope's next game is Saturday, Feb. 8 at Adrian. Tipoff has been moved up to 5 p.m.