Men's Basketball Rallies To Down Calvin In Rivalry Thriller

Dennis Towns raised both arms as the shot clock ticked perilously down — asking for the ball from a teammate unable to shoot because of two defenders collapsing on him.

Another unforgettable, game-deciding moment in the storied Hope College-Calvin College men's basketball rivalry soon followed.

Towns beat the shot block by banking in a go-ahead jumper just inside the 3-point line. The junior from Flint, Michigan (Powers Catholic HS) broke a tie score and gave the Flying Dutchmen their first lead with 60 seconds remaining in regulation.

Hope went on to win Game No. 197 in The Rivalry — 77-72 in come-from-behind fashion — in front of a sold-out DeVos Fieldhouse of 3,595.

Video: Dennis Towns' go-ahead basket

Video: Post-Game Press Conference with Dante Hawkins, Dennis Towns and Greg Mitchell

Photo gallery by Steve Herppich

The Flying Dutchmen (8-6 overall) moved into a three-way tie for second place in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association standings with a 2-1 league record. Hope plays at MIAA-leading Adrian on Saturday.

For a few fleeting moments Wednesday night, the next game was a secondary thought for Towns and his teammates. They just reveled in victory and taking a 102-95 lead in the 97-year Hope-Calvin rivalry.

"Luckily he got it up," said senior guard Dante Hawkins, the Flying Dutchmen's newest and 40th 1,000-point career scorer. "It was the biggest shot of the game."

Towns called for the ball from junior guard Jason Beckman of Shelby, Michigan (Shelby) as Hope's leading scorer could not get a shot up amid a double team.

Towns caught the ball in the wing in front of the Flying Dutchmen bench. With no time to waste, he jumped and shot over Calvin's 6-7 Jason Walter — who had already blocked six shots in the game.

The desperation jumper banked in as the shot clock expired for a 71-69 lead with 60 seconds remaining.

"I knew the clock was running down. I knew I had to get it up immediately," Towns said. "I just took my dribble and pulled it up. It went in."

Head coach Greg Mitchell heaped praise on Towns — who finished with eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

"Just having that moxie to get that shot up — when the shot clock was going down — was tremendous," Mitchell said. "We were telling him, 'Shoot it! Shoot it!'"

Added Hawkins, "We have great confidence and anyone out there shooting the ball. (Dennis is) a great mid-range shooter. He got pushed back there a little, it was a long 2. We all believe in Dennis."

After the heroics from Towns, Hope got a stop on the defensive end with a missed Calvin 3-pointer. The Flying Dutchmen then scored their final six points from the foul line to hold off the Knights (5-9, 1-2 MIAA).

Hope overcame a 13-0 hole to start the game and a 63-51 deficit with 8 ½ minutes remaining.

The Flying Dutchmen tied the score for the first time since the opening tip when freshman forward Preston Granger of Lansing, Michigan (Lansing Christian) made a putback with 1:50 remaining.

"We just defined grit on the floor tonight. I'm so proud of these guys," Mitchell said. "That's a good basketball team we played that shot exceptionally well in the first half.

"We just grew and grew and grew. To outrebound them by 12 in the second half, that gave us a chance. We kept chipping away and believe. We just kept fighting. It takes so much out of to fight and claw back. We just kept clawing."

Beckman totaled a game-high 25 points that included a 10-of-10 effort from the free throw line. He joined as perfect Hope foul shooters at DeVos Fieldhouse with at least 10 attempts: Harrison Blackledge (12-of-12, February 24, 2017 vs. Alma) and Jesse Reimink (10-of-10, November 28, 2008).

Hawkins added 21 points, including 17 in the second half. He now has 1,004 points in his Flying Dutchmen career.

Granger finished with 15 points and seven rebounds in a season-high 32 minutes off the bench.

Austin Bykerk led four Calvin players in double figures with 15 points.

The next Hope-Calvin Rivalry game is February 3 at Calvin.

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