Thanks to two determined seniors and a timely assist from a rival, the Hope College men's basketball team is Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association champions for the 40th time in team history.
The Flying Dutchmen downed Albion College 85-77 Saturday on Senior Day at DeVos Fieldhouse behind 37 combined points from seniors Luke Dreyer of Zeeland, Michigan (Zeeland West) and Dante Hawkins of Holland, Michigan (Holland HS).
After the game ended, Hope learned Calvin beat visiting Olivet 95-88 in Grand Rapids and made the Flying Dutchmen MIAA co-champions with Olivet. It was Hope's third consecutive MIAA title and a league-best 40th overall.
"We feel very, very good today," head coach Greg Mitchell said. "When seniors play like these two guys did, it just makes it that much better."
Hope (16-9 overall, 10-4 MIAA) will be the No. 2 seed for next week's MIAA Tournament at Olivet. The Flying Dutchmen will face third-seeded Adrian Friday at 5 p.m. at Olivet.
The winner advances to Saturday's 3 p.m. championship game. Ticket information will be announced next week. Olivet and Trine meet in the other semifinal Friday at 7:45 p.m.
Dreyer and Hawkins fueled Hope's bounceback from a 70-49 loss at Olivet on Wednesday that featured a season-low one 3-pointer.
Dreyer, making his first career start, sank a 3-pointer 14 seconds into the game and went on to total two career-highs with 14 points and five rebounds. He went 6-of-7 from the field, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range.
Hawkins netted a game-high 23 points to push him to 1,208 career points. He's now 21st all-time in all-time scoring for the Flying Dutchmen.
Senior Day admittedly was a day full of emotions, both players said.
Student assistant coach Christian Butler was honored during a pre-game ceremony along with Dreyer and Hawkins.
"It seemed really surreal for a long time," Dreyer said. "It didn't feel real until we walked out on the court to start the game, it was like, 'Wow, this is crazy.' It felt like all four years took about five minutes. It was a really cool atmosphere and just happy to play in it."
Added Hawkins, "It means a lot. These last four years have been so great — grown a lot on and off the court. I'm not really emotional but just walking out the tunnel pregame for the last time, I found myself reminiscing, remembering I still had a game to play. Just happy we came out with a win."
Junior Jason Beckman of Shelby, Michigan (Shelby HS) chipped 17 points for Hope.
Junior forward Dennis Towns of Flint, Michigan (Powers Catholic) added 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field.
Junior Teddy Ray of Fort Wayne, Indiana (Homestead) finished with eight points and a team-high nine rebounds.
Albion (9-16, 6-8 MIAA) received a team-high 18 points from Arshawn Parker off the bench.