A heart-pounding, frantic finish capped a wild and unforgettable season opener for the nationally ranked Hope College women's basketball team.
Junior guard Madison Geers of Scottville, Michigan (Mason County Central HS) took the inbounds pass and dribbled the length of the court as the closing seconds of overtime ticked. Her pressured, off-balanced layup banked in with 1.2 seconds remaining, giving the No. 13 Flying Dutch a 99-97 overtime victory over No. 21 Wheaton, Illinois.
Wheaton could not muster a shot before time expired, and Geers was mobbed by her jubilant teammates at halfcourt. There was much to cheer after overcoming a 19-point first-half deficit and preventing just the seventh loss in 173 games at DeVos Fieldhouse.
"I hope we see good stuff from Friday and Saturday from this thing,' Hope coach Brian Morehouse said, "but right now I'm grateful she made me look good with an end-to-end rush, that she finished an incredibly tough shot - getting hit, getting through traffic, through contact, and we won."
Geers said she weaved her through the court after hearing a plea from teammate Mandy Traversa of Winfield, Illinois (Wheaton North HS), who inbounded her the ball after Wheaton's preseason All-American made her second free-throw attempt to tie the score with 10 seconds remaining in the five-minute overtime.
"Go Geers Go!" Geers recalled hearing.
After catching the ball, Geers turned and dribbled right-handed toward the scorer's table at an angle. After racing around a screen from Traversa, Geers, playing in her 30th minute, was picked in front of the Hope bench by a Wheaton defender.
Geers kept driving, and despite Kelly Lawson draped all over her, leaped in the air as she approached the basket. The ball calmly banked off the glass and through the net, stopping the clock with 1.2 seconds remaining. Geers totaled 15 points.
Wheaton inbounded the ball quickly but could not get off a desperation shot in time. The Thunder were denied a second victory at DeVos Fieldhouse in as many visits.
Hope overcame a career-high 38 points from McDaniels - the most ever by any women's basketball player at DeVos Fieldhouse. She came within two points of equaling Joe Prepolec of Kalamazoo's mark of 40.
Morehouse called McDaniels — who made 17 field goals, including two 3s, and dished out a game-high 10 assists — the most difficult player he's ever had to coach against.
The Flying Dutch overcame first-half defensive breakdowns that led to a 52-36 halftime deficit and the most points allowed to an opponent by the Flying Dutch at DeVos Fieldhouse.
Hope erupted with a 32-point third quarter that pushed the Flying Dutch ahead for 68-65.
"Coming into the locker room, he said this is not Hope basketball," sophomore Francesca Buchanan said of Morehouse's halftime speech. "We talk a lot about that at practice, 'Let's play Hope basketball, go out and play Hope defense, Hope offense and it showed tonight.'"
Both teams missed chances to break an 88-88 tie at the end regulation. Senior guard Angelique Gaddy of Caledonia, Michigan (Grand Rapids South Christian) atoned for an offensive foul with five seconds remaining by blocking McDaniels' driving layup on the other end.
The Flying Dutch outscored Wheaton (0-1) 11-9 during the five-minute overtime.
Buchanan topped Hope with a career-high 27 points that equaled the third-most by a Hope player at DeVos Fieldhouse. Maura McAfee's 29 is the women's record.
Buchanan's 12-of-22 shooting in 30 minutes the field set a DeVos Fieldhouse record for field goals by a Flying Dutch player. The old mark was 10.
Three other players scored in double figures for Hope: Gaddy with 18, Traversa with 15, and senior forward Elizabeth Perkins of Eaton Rapids, Michigan (Lansing Christian) with 13 off the bench.
The game was the highest-scoring women's game between two teams at DeVos Fieldhouse.
Hope returns to action on Friday-Saturday, Nov. 18-19 with its Tip Off Tournament at DeVos Fieldhouse. The Flying Dutch face Finlandia on Friday at 7:30 p.m.