by Alan Babbitt
Riley Lewis never doubted, even as more than a few orange-clad fans inside DeVos Fieldhouse understandably did.
He expected his teammate, Teddy Ray, to deliver in the clutch for the Hope College men's basketball team.
Ray, pictured at right, swatted away a Ryan Norkus putback attempt on a short baseline jumper to preserve a one-point lead in the closing seconds against La Roche College (Pennsylvania) Tuesday at DeVos Fieldhouse during the Great Lakes Invitational/Russ DeVette Holiday Classic.
The Flying Dutchmen completed a second-half comeback for a 92-87 victory that snapped the Redhawks' eight-game win streak.
"That was huge," Lewis said. "I love when Teddy makes big plays. I was fired up for him. He is our best defensive player. I wasn't surprised. I knew he would make a big play if he had to — and he did."
Hope improved to 6-3 overall, while La Roche, an NCAA Tournament and Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference championship team from last season fell to 8-2.
Lewis, pictured at left, topped the Flying Dutchmen with a game-high 28 points. The junior guard from Williamston, Michigan (Williamston HS) shot 72.7 percent from the field (8-11), including 85.7 percent from 3-point range (6-7).
The Flying Dutchmen wrap up the two-day tournament on Wednesday, December 19 with a 7:30 p.m. game against Mount St. Joseph University (Ohio). Mount St. Joseph lost to Calvin 83-62 in Tuesday's tournament opener.
For a while, it appeared La Roche would run away with the victory.
Fueled by center Tyler Frederick (23 points) and guard Zach Gould (20 points), LaRoche held a double-digit lead deep into the second half. A Norkus 3-pointer put the RedHawks ahead 83-72 with 7:01 remaining.
As head coach Greg Mitchell aptly put, Hope clawed its way back. The Flying Dutchmen took their first lead of the second half at 88-87 on a Lewis jumper with 1:30 remaining.
After the two teams traded missed jumpers, LaRoche had possession with 37 seconds remaining. The Redhawks missed their first attempt at a game-winning basket, but Norkus swopped in for the rebound and quickly released a short baseline jumper.
Ray soared from underneath the basket and swatted the ball away. Lewis corralled the loose ball and victory.
"I probably should have gotten the rebound in the first place because that was my man, so I wanted to make up for that," Ray said. "I saw that shot go up. I just anticipated it,and tried to get it out of there. "Luckily Riley (Lewis) was there to get the rebound and hit some big free throws down the stretch.
"It was relief. I played a little sloppy and missed some shots. I am just grateful we came out with a win."