The 16th-ranked Hope College and Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association champion men's basketball team is one Rivalry win away from joining an exclusive club.
The Flying Dutchmen moved within one win of becoming the third Hope team to go 14-0 in a MIAA men's basketball season after fending off Kalamazoo for a 72-65 victory on Wednesday at DeVos Fieldhouse.
The Flying Dutchmen close the regular season on Saturday, Feb. 18 with a 3 p.m. game against Calvin at DeVos Fieldhouse. A sellout is expected for the 195th edition of The Rivalry.
Hope, which leads the all-time series with Calvin 101-93, enters with a 20-4 overall record. The Flying Dutchmen lead second-place Calvin (14-10 overall) by four games in the MIAA standings.
The 2011 Hope team under the direction of Matt Neil and the 1959 team under the guidance of Russ DeVette both went 14-0 against MIAA opponents.
The Flying Dutchmen also finished 12-0 in league play in 1996, 1994, 1990, 1983 — all under Glenn Van Wieren's coaching — and 1962 — Russ Devette.
Against Kalamazoo, junior guard Dante Hawkins of Holland, Michigan (Holland) and senior forward Harrison Blackledge of Canton, Ohio (Hoover) powered Hope with a game-high 23 points and 21 points, respectively.
Blackledge helped the Flying Dutchmen outscore Kalamazoo (6-17, 2-11 MIAA) by a 43-38 margin during the second half. He totaled 17 points after halftime on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and a 6-of-7 effort from the foul line.
Hawkins, who netted 16 first-half points, also topped the Flying Dutchmen with five steals and recorded five assists. Senior guard Mitchell O'Brien of Manteno, Illinois (Bishop McNamara) contributed six steals off the bench.
The Flying Dutchmen forced a season-high 26 turnovers.