The Hope College men's basketball team set out to defend and rebound on the road Saturday.
A laser-like focus, head coach Greg Mitchell described, paved the way for the Flying Dutchmen to earn a 95-73 win at Alma College and created an opportunity to play for a share of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship next week.
"When you have a group that's playing well defensively and offensively, that's directly attributed to focus," Mitchell said after his team pushed its season-high win streak to five games. "We started talking at the Calvin game (on February 3). We said we have five championship games left. We've got to win them all to control our destiny.
"We knew the schedule was not going to be easy, but we're talking it 40 minutes at a time."
The Flying Dutchmen (15-8 overall) are tied for first place in the MIAA with Olivet. Both teams are 9-3 in league play and have clinched berths in the February 23-24 MIAA Tournament.
Olivet hosts Hope on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The Flying Dutchmen edged Olivet 87-84 on January 20 at DeVos Fieldhouse.
Against Alma, the Flying Dutchmen overwhelmed Alma with 56.3 percent shooting from the field and 14 3-pointers.
It was the third consecutive game Hope made at least 50 percent of its field-goal attempts.
Senior guard Dante Hawkins of Holland, Michigan (Holland HS) led five Flying Dutchmen in double figures with 20 points. He buried four 3-pointers, as did junior guard Jason Beckman of Shelby, Michigan (Shelby HS). Beckman finished with 16 points.
Freshman center Preston Granger of Lansing, Michigan (Lansing Christian) chipped in 17 points and seven rebounds on near-perfect shooting. He went 7-of-8 from the field and 3-of-3 at the foul line.
Junior forward Teddy Ray of Fort Wayne, Indiana (Homestead HS) recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. He sank three 3-pointers.
Junior forward Dennis Towns of Flint, Michigan (Powers Catholic) grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds and scored seven points.
Sophomore guard Riley Lewis of Williamston, Michigan (Williamston) added 11 points off the bench.
Mitchell points to the trust between teammates as the catalyst for the Flying Dutchmen's recent success.
"They believe in one another," Mitchell said. "If you don't believe in one another, you can't respond to adversity. We're benefiting from the belief in the entire process. We have each other's backs."