Men's Basketball Falls To Cornerstone In GRSHOF Classic Finale

by Greg Chandler
The Hope College men's basketball battled back gamely after a slow start on Saturday night but dropped a 70-58 decision to Cornerstone University at the 23rd annual Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame Classic at Calvin College's Van Noord Arena.
Junior guard Riley Lewis of Williamston, Michigan (Williamston HS) led the Flying Dutchmen (3-2 overall) with 21 points, including three 3-pointers. He made the all-tournament team.
Hope finished a season-opening stretch of playing five games in nine days.

"We'll be fine. The season is a process," head coach Greg Mitchell said. "I love our guys. I know they'll bounce back Monday and have a great week of practice," Mitchell said.

Photo of Riley Lewis by Aaron Sagraves

Hope did not score for the game's first 5 minutes, 16 seconds as Cornerstone (8-3) raced to a 13-0 lead. The Flying Dutchmen finally broke through when junior guard Riley Lewis of Williamston, Michigan (Williamston HS) hit a 17-foot jumper.

Lewis would then score Hope's next eight points as the Flying Dutch Dutchmen cut their deficit to 17-10 with 13 minutes left in the first half.

Hope continued to scrap back in the game later in the first half, pulling to within 28-26 on a jumper by senior forward Teddy Ray of Fort Wayne, Indiana (Homestead HS) with 4:22 remaining. Cornerstone responded with a six-point run to boost the lead to 34-26, but Hope closed the gap to 38-35 after Lewis hit a jumper just before the end of the half.

The Flying Dutchmen twice pulled within one point early in the second half, first at 38-37, then again at 40-39 on a jumper by senior forward Dennis Towns of Flint, Michigan (Powers Catholic HS) with 18:27 remaining. That would be as close as Hope would get to taking the lead.

At that point, Cornerstone's 6-foot-8 senior center, Sam VanderSluis, asserted himself, scoring the next 10 points as the Golden Eagles extended their lead to 50-39 with 15 minutes to play. Hope got no closer than eight points the rest of the contest.

"Their length bothered us the whole night," Mitchell said. "I think we got bailed out by Riley catching fire. He did a great job in the first half, but I don't think we were as engaged. I don't think we had the same zip and passion and toughness. You've got to fight for 40 minutes. We didn't fight the first four or five (minutes), and then we fought."

Hope shot 36.4 percent from the field (24 of 66) and struggled from 3-point range, hitting only 5 of 22 for 22.7 percent. Cornerstone controlled the boards by a 41-36 margin and shot 46.7 percent from the field (28 of 60).

Senior guard Jason Beckman of Shelby, Michigan (Shelby HS) added 12 points and five assists, while Towns ripped down nine rebounds to lead the Dutchmen on the glass.

VanderSluis, a native of Holland, had a double-double to lead Cornerstone with 26 points and 13 rebounds.

Hope returns to action Tuesday, December 4, with a game at DeVos Fieldhouse against Grace Christian (Mich.) University. | PO Box 9000, Holland, Michigan 49422