by Eva Dean Folkert
Saturday afternoon's men's basketball game between Hope College and John Carroll University was expected to be an uptempo affair and the contest sure lived up to that billing. The two teams raced to the highest combined scoring in a game in DeVos Fieldhouse since the 2011-12 season when Hope fell to Illinois Wesleyan in the NCAA Tournament, 108-101, in double overtime.
This time though when they hit triple-digits, the Flying Dutchmen won, topping the Blue Streaks, 104-94, to take the Russ DeVette/Holland Sentinel Classic title for the fourth year in-a-row.
For the most part, the Flying Dutchmen favor reaching the century mark. All-time, Hope is 148-3 in games in which the Flying Dutchmen have scored 100 or more points in a game.
Saturday's game also saw a new DeVos Fieldhouse record established by Hope with the most free throws attempted (41) and made (34). All those free completions accounted for 33% of Hope's score.
"That game seemed to last a week," joked head coach Greg Mitchell in the post-game press conference. "Well, maybe just the last eight minutes."
Those last eight minutes to which Mitchell refers is the period when the Blue Streaks began to frantically whittle away Hope's largest lead of the game, a 21-point advantage in the second half. Senior guard Dante Hawkins of Holland, Michigan (Holland HS) used a 35-second stretch to score a lay-up, make a steal, and then nail a three-pointer to get Hope to 79-58 with 10:40 to go.
But then John Carroll went on a intense run, scoring 25 points to Hope's 10 over the next four minutes to cut the lead to six, 89-83, with six minutes to go. They would get the score as close as five points, 99-94, at the 1:29 mark, but Hope kept their composure and finished the game with a 5-0 run.
"We got loose with the basketball (during that time) and we were playing it to survive instead of attacking and that's always a dangerous situation," said Mitchell. "However, we found it again and to me that's the definition of a tough, gritty team. You just have to find a way in all circumstances."
John Carroll jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead to start the game with two three-pointers by Antonio Vuyancih and Ryan Berger. A three-pointer of his own by Hope forward Teddy Ray of Fort Wayne, Indiana (Homestead HS) put the Flying Dutchmen on top, 10-8, at the 16:01 mark of the first half. Hope would never give back the lead after that, though they were constantly pressured by the Blue Streaks' pesky full-court press and man-to-man defense to do so.
A nice series of athletic plays midway through the first half saw junior center Rob McGivney of Burr Ridge, Illinois (Timothy Christian HS) slam down a dunk and senior guard Luke Dreyer of Zeeland, Michigan (Zeeland West HS) pull off a nifty reverse layup. By the end of the half, Hope owned a 46-35 lead.
Junior guard Jason Beckman of Shelby, Michigan (Shelby HS) scored 13 of his game-high 26 points in the first 11 minutes of the second half. Freshman guard Danny Beckman of Shelby, Michigan (Shelby HS) scored nine points off the bench, all in the second half.
"A team like that you can't take your foot off the pedal at all," said Jason Beckman. "We did for a while so that kind of let them back in it, but I'd say at the end we took control and held on for the win."
Jason Beckman was joined in double-digit scoring by Hawkins who dropped in 24 points and Ray who had 14 points. Junior Dennis Towns of Flint, Michigan (Flint Powers Catholic HS) was the leader on the boards for Hope once again with 12 rebounds.
Berger led the Blue Streaks with 22 points while Matthew Csuhran added 18, Vuyancih 17, and Sean Flannery 10.
Hawkins was named the tournament's MVP and he was joined by Beckman on the all-tournment team (pictured above left and right, respectively). John Carroll's Berger and Vuyancih, Tracy Edmonds from Olivet, and JJ Kukura from Mount Union rounded out the all-tourney squad.
For the game, Hope outshot John Carroll from the field, 52.6% to 45.7%, from the three-point arc, 45.5% to 30%, and from the free throw line, 82.9% to 55%.
The Flying Dutchmen outrebounded the Blue Streaks, too, 41-39.
The win improves the Flying Dutchmen's record to 6-5 while the loss puts the Blue Streaks at 9-2. Hope has not lost to John Carroll in the six times they've met.
Hope College open MIAA league play on Wednesday, January 3, with a home game against Trine University. Game time is 7:30 in DeVos Fieldhouse.