Dante Hawkins makes it easy for his Hope College men's basketball teammates to relish playing with him.
The junior guard from Holland, Michigan (Holland HS) led the Flying Dutchmen to an 88-77 win against Alma in Wednesday's showdown between Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association co-leaders with a number of plays, including a career-high 29 points.
Hawkins matched Jesse Reimink's 2008 effort vs. Cornerstone for fifth-highest point total at DeVos Fieldhouse by a Flying Dutchmen player.
Senior forward Cody Stuive of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville) called Hawkins probably the most fun player he's ever played with.
"The things he can do on the court," Stuive said, "he is something special."
Eighteen of Hawkins' points came during a second half where Hope outscored the Scots 50-39.
Hawkins shot 63.6 percent from the field after halftime (7-of-11). He sank all three of his 3-pointers during the second half.
Head coach Greg Mitchell embraced Hawkins after the game.
"I just told him big players play big in big games - and he is obviously a big player," Mitchell said. "He deserves to feel really good about that game on that stage with that kind of pressure."
Hope improved to 10-4 overall and 3-0 in MIAA play. The Flying Dutchmen, winners of three in a row, are tied for first place with Calvin.
Senior guard Chad Carlson of Rockford, Michigan (Rockford) contributed 19 points — one short of equaling his career-high. He made Hope's four other 3-pointers.
Senior forward Harrison Blackledge of Canton, Ohio (Hoover) added 12 points.
Stuive had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Hope returns to action on Saturday, Jan. 14 with a 3 p.m. game at Trine.
Watch game highlights below.