The Hope College men's basketball team forged its way into a four-way tie for first place in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association standings Saturday with help from guard Riley Lewis as well as from Alma College.
Lewis delivered a team-high 23 points and the game-clinching steal in the closing seconds of an 87-84 Flying Dutchmen victory against Olivet College on Saturday at DeVos Fieldhouse.
Later Saturday, Alma topped visiting Adrian 73-66 to put Hope, Adrian, Olivet, and Trine atop the MIAA standings with 4-2 league records. Alma is one game back in fifth place. The first half of MIAA play wraps up Wednesday.
The Flying Dutchmen (10-7 overall) did their part by overcoming an 11-point deficit with 12:20 remaining.
Photo by Riley Lewis by Tom Renner
Lewis led the charge off the bench as he nearly matched his season- and career-highs of 26 points.
The sophomore from Williamston, Michigan (Williamston) scored 20 points after halftime while shooting 60 percent from the field (6-10), including 67 percent from 3-point range (4-6), and 100 percent from the foul line (4-4).
Lewis broke an 82-82 tie by burying a 3-pointer from the corner off an assist from senior guard Dante Hawkins of Holland, Michigan (Holland).
Fifty-six seconds later — following a Blake Siersema layup and two missed free throws by Hawkins had Hope clinching to an 85-84 lead — Lewis came through with his biggest contribution.
Lewis swiped the ball from Siersema — after Tracy Edmond found Siersema in the paint — to preserve Hope's lead. Lewis was fouled, but made both free throws. The Comets (9-8 overall) got a shot off before the buzzer, but it caromed off the rim.
"That was instinct. I give Riley 100 percent credit," head coach Greg Mitchell said of defensive play where collapsed defensively after Siersema received a pass from Tracy Edmond. "You can talk about things in a timeout, but it takes some moxie and some poise to make a play like that. It was perfectly timed."
Added Lewis, "I saw the clock going down. I know Tracy is a good player, so when he got done with it, he was probably going to make that pass. I left my guy in the corner and tried to pick it off."
The Flying Dutchmen also received 21 points from junior guard Jason Beckman, who now has 1,000 points for his college career.
Junior forward Dennis Towns of Flint, Michigan (Powers Catholic) overcame foul trouble to grab 11 rebounds.
Olivet received 28 points from forward Jalen Adams, the MIAA's leading scorer, and 23 points and five 3-pointers from guard Eldridge Mason.
Hope returns to action on Wednesday, January 24 at Albion. Tipoff is 7:30 p.m.