A pair of underclassmen sparked the Hope College men's basketball team to an NCAA Division III Tournament-opening 93-91 victory over Augsburg, Minnesota on Friday night in Rock Island, Illinois.
Sophomore guard Riley Lewis of Williamston, Michigan (Williamston HS) scored a team-high 23 points off the bench, including a 3-pointer that gave the Flying Dutchmen an 88-83 lead with 46 seconds remaining.
Freshman center Preston Granger of Lansing, Michigan (Lansing Christian) added a career-high 21 points, including two on a dunk that snapped an 83-83 tie with 1:22 remaining. Hope (19-9 overall) never trailed again and survived a game-winning 3-point attempt.
The Flying Dutchmen advanced to face No. 9 Augustana in Saturday's 7 p.m. Central second-round game. Augustana (23-5) outlasted Greenville, Illinois - the nation's highest-scoring team — for a 123-111 victory Friday.
"We stuck together, played the whole 40 minutes," Lewis said. "Dante gave me a great pass (on the 3-pointer late), and I was able to knock it down. Coming off the bench is knowing my team needs a spark, and I was able to do that tonight."
Lewis finished shooting 80 percent from the floor (8-of-10). Granger was 83.3 percent (10-of-12).
"Sometimes I am hesitant and my coaches and teammates encourage me to be more aggressive and dunk it," Granger said. "I actually did that tonight, and it paid off."
Senior point guard Dante Hawkins of Holland, Michigan (Holland) was credited with assists on both decisive baskets.
For its 18th NCAA Tournament first-round victory in 27 tries, Hope overcame a game-high 39 points from Augsburg's Collin Olmscheid and two missed front ends of 1-and-1s late by the nation's fourth leading foul shooter, Jason Beckman.
Beckman finished with 19 points after missing six of his first seven field-goal attempts. He finished 7-of-17.
Augsburg (21-8) limited Hawkins to 14 points on 4-of-13 shooting from the floor.
"One of those games when you ask yourself 'How did we find a way to win the basketball game?'" head coach Greg Mitchell said. "It was hard to get stops. We knew they were going to be disciplined, deliberate and methodical in their approach to the game. It was going to be a matter of holding for dear life and out-scoring them which is what they did.
"We found a way to win with Dante and Jason shooting just 11-for-30. I'm not throwing them under the bus because we don't win without them, but to have a freshman and step up was huge. The one thing we have had all year has been cohesion. Credit to our guys who sit on the bench. They bring it to practice every day and it paid dividends tonight."
Junior Dennis Towns of Flint, Michigan (Powers Catholic) recorded 10 points along with four blocked shots and four steals. Junior Teddy Ray of Fort Wayne, Indiana (Homestead) finished with 10 rebounds.
The 6-8 Olmscheid scored 39 points on 14-for-18 shooting.