by Alan Babbitt
Guard Calvin Hackert came off the bench to spark a Hope College men's basketball team desperate for a jolt. He did it before even scoring a single point.
The sophomore from Ludington, Michigan (Ludington HS) returned from ankle injury that had sidelined him for two games to provide the defense that ignited a come-from-behind, 87-65, victory against Kalamazoo College on Saturday.
Hope overcame a 22-point, first-half deficit in front of a DeVos Fieldhouse crowd of 2,509 that included members of former Flying Dutchmen players from the 1990s that were honored during a halftime ceremony.
"Wow. That was special," head coach Greg Mitchell said of Hackert, pictured above. "Cal hasn't played significant minutes since the first game of the year, and he saved our butts today. People are going to remember the shots that were made, but Cal refused to be beaten and made some real big hustle plays. That's contagious. If guys see it, they want to do it.
"He showed us the way today."
The Flying Dutchmen fell behind 11-0 to start the game and trailed 30-8 with 8 ½ minutes remaining in the first half.
Hackert, the son of 1990 Flying Dutch national-championship game hero Dina Disney, entered the game for the first time with 6:14 remaining and Hope down 30-12.
Hackert did not leave the floor again, and the Flying Dutchmen went into halftime down just seven points at 37-30.
Senior forward Dennis Towns of Flint, Michigan (Powers Catholic) credited Hackert's determination on defense before praising his career-high 11 points that all came during the second half.
"All game they were trying to attack the lane," said Towns, who contributed 10 points. "I saw Cal moving his feet, not falling for their fakes, not letting anyone pass him. That fired me up."
In the second half, Hope erupted for 57 points to overwhelm the Hornets (3-10, 0-2 MIAA) and launch themselves into The Rivalry game on Wednesday, January 9 at Calvin College.
The Flying Dutchmen outscored Kalamazoo 31-5 over the final 10 minutes.
Ray, pictured at right, buried all five of his five 3-point attempts after halftime while netting 17 of his career-high 25 points. He made seven 3-pointers in all.
For the game, Ray shot 81.8 percent from the field (9-11) and 87.5 percent from 3-point range (7-8).
"We just didn't play well in the first 10 minutes. Coach challenged me to get the guys going," Ray said. "We had to play with more fire and energy. It was pretty incredible the way we responded."
Lewis scored all 14 of his points after halftime. He went 2-of-3 from 3-point range and 4-of-4 from the foul line during the second half.
Hackert was perfect from the field after missing his only shot during the first half. Hackert sank three 3-pointers and one jumper for 11 vital points.
"My focus coming off the bench is to bring some energy and some flow in the offense," Hackert said. "I hit a few shots and it got us rolling. It felt good."
The Flying Dutchmen shot 91.7 percent from 3-point range during the second half (11-12). Hope finished with a season-high 14 3-pointers.
The record-setting passing of senior guard Jason Beckman of Shelby, Michigan (Shelby HS) helped Hope as well.
Beckman recorded nine of his DeVos Fieldhouse-record 12 assists during the second half. He also equaled the career-high 12 assists he had against Greenville College (Illinois) during the season opener in November.
Beckman shares the Hope assist record for any game with Greg Immink.