Whether by inspiration or execution on the court, six Hope College women's basketball players made their Senior Night at DeVos Fieldhouse one to savor.
The nationally ranked Flying Dutch remained tied atop the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association standings with one game left by defeating Saint Mary's 81-48 on Wednesday.
After the game — and before thoughts turned to Saturday's championship showdown with Trine — Hope honored seniors Angelique Gaddy of Caledonia, Michigan (Grand Rapids South Christian HS), Allison Hedrick of Naperville, Illinois (Neuqua Valley), Paris Madison of Grand Rapids, Michigan (GR Christian), Elizabeth Perkins of Eaton Rapids, Michigan (Lansing Christian), Tyra Smith of Grand Rapids, Michigan (GR Christian), and Mandy Traversa of Winfield, Illinois (Wheaton North).
The Flying Dutch's senior class now has a 101-10 record over four seasons and a 22-2 mark this season. They are bidding for their second consecutive and third overall Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association when they host Trine (21-2) at 12:45 p.m. Saturday.
The Hope-Trine winner will host next week's MIAA Tournament.
Perkins, injured earlier this season and unable to play, was honored by an ovation from the crowd as the game started. She dressed for the game and was on the court for the opening tip.
Hope intentionally committed a violation that gave Saint Mary's possession, so that there would be a stoppage of play and Perkins could exit to cheers.
Later in the game, the other seniors came off the court one by one to rousing support from coaches, teammates and fans.
"Anytime you have senior day it always feels like it's bigger than the game — there's a certain energy about your team," head coach Brian Morehouse said. "Your younger players, they want to honor the legacy of the seniors that played before them and I think as a senior you want to win your senior day first of all. The other part is you just want to go out together. I think it was great they could leave the floor together."
The Flying Dutch dominated from the start, jumping out to a 23-3 lead in the first quarter.
Sophomore center Francesca Buchanan of Grant, Michigan (Sparta) led a balanced effort with 13 points. Gaddy chipped in 11.
Sixteen different Hope players contributed points against Saint Mary's (2-22, 1-14 MIAA).