by Greg Chandler
The Hope College men's basketball team notched its third win in four games to start the 2018-19 season Friday night as the Flying Dutchmen defeated Aquinas College, 78-63, at the 23rd annual Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame Classic at Calvin College's Van Noord Arena.
The Flying Dutchmen will play Cornerstone University, who lost 70-62 to tournament host Calvin Friday night, at 6 p.m. Saturday at Van Noord Arena. The Golden Eagles (7-3), who are ranked No. 7 in NAIA Division II, have won the last three Hall of Fame tournaments.
After the lead changed hands 11 times between Hope and Aquinas in the game's first 17 minutes, the Flying Dutchmen used two runs – one late in the first half, another at the start of the second half, to pull away.
With the score tied at 35-35, Hope outscored Aquinas 12-5 over the final three minutes of the first half, sparked by six points by junior guard Riley Lewis of Williamston, Michigan (Williamston HS).
Senior forward Teddy Ray of Fort Wayne, Indiana (Homestead), who was playing in his first game of the season after being out with a shoulder injury and illness, capped the run with a 3-point basket from the top of the key just before halftime, pushing the Flying Dutchmen out to a 47-40 lead.
Then after Aquinas scored the first basket of the second half, Hope went on a 10-2 run, capped by a Lewis 3-pointer, to open up a 57-44 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
"I wasn't real thrilled with our first half, to be completely honest with you, giving up 40 (points) and allowing over 50 percent (shooting) from the field," Mitchell said. "Our focus at halftime was making those adjustments, getting around screens better, being more engaged. I thought we did a good job of that in the second half. Our defensive energy was much, much better. That was the key for us."
Aquinas mounted a couple of runs, whittling the Hope lead to 68-61 on a DeShawn Lewis 3-pointer with 5:38 remaining. However, moments later, sophomore center Preston Granger of Lansing, Michigan (Lansing Christian HS), pictured, muscled his way to a three-point play off two offensive rebounds, starting a final 10-2 spurt that slammed the door on the Saints' comeback hopes.
"That's the kind of play you have to make to distance yourself," Mitchell said. "We talk about making tough, gritty plays and Preston certainly made a couple of those tonight."
Granger led the Flying Dutchmen with a career-high 23 points, including 11 of 14 from the foul line, and grabbed seven rebounds.
Senior guard Jason Beckman of Shelby, Michigan (Shelby HS) added 19 points and four assists, while Lewis scored 18 points, including three 3-pointers, and chipped in five rebounds and three assists.
Ray, one of the Hope captains, contributed eight points and six rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench.
Hope shot 44.8 percent from the field (26 of 58) for the game, including 5 of 10 on 3-point attempts.
The Flying Dutchmen were strong again from the free throw line, sinking 21 of 24 for 87.5 percent, while Aquinas made 10 of 14 for 71.4 percent.
Hope outrebounded the Saints 36-29.