by Eva Dean Folkert
Another Hope vs. Calvin Rivalry game — the 199th in the series— came down to some intense final seconds as the Flying Dutchmen fought back valiantly from game-long deficits against the Knights on Wednesday night in Van Noord Arena.
After working feverishly to catch their opponent the entire game, Hope cut Calvin's lead to one point with both 10 and 5 seconds to go. But the Flying Dutchmen just could not find that first, and last, go-ahead basket and were edged by the Knights, 74-70.
The loss dropped Hope to 8-6 overall and 1-2 in the MIAA. Calvin moved to 7-7 and 2-1 in the MIAA.
Hope leads The Rivalry series, 103-96. The 200th Hope vs. Calvin Rivalry game will be played at DeVos Fieldhouse on Saturday, February 2.
"I'm very proud of our guys for finding a way to fight back because there were moments where Calvin was playing very well and we were kind of taking some punches," said head coach Greg Mitchell. "I thought to survive the initial run (by Calvin) was great."
That first big run was sparked by Knight Derrick DeVries who scored 21 of Calvin's 37 points in the first half. The Knights held as much as an 11-point lead (17-6) to start the game, but the Flying Dutchmen threw some punches too, cutting Calvin's lead down to one point at the 5:05 mark (28-27) when 6-foot-6 center Preston Granger was open for a layup as a result of 5-foot-11 guard Calvin Hackert's pick.
From there though, Calvin upped its lead again, and a 3-pointer by Hope senior guard Jason Beckman of Shelby (Shelby HS) at the halftime buzzer sent the teams into intermission, 37-34 Calvin in front.
In the second half, the Knights took their lead to double digits again, leading by 10 points — 56-46 — at the 10:46 mark. And Calvin kept the pressure on.
In the last minute of the game though, the Flying Dutchmen made their deepest cut into Calvin's lead, thanks to sophomore guard Riley Lewis of Williamston (Williamston HS), pictured. Lewis scored the last seven points for Hope in under a minute by sinking a pull-up jumper to move the Flying Dutchmen within two points with 56 second to go (67-65), knocking down a 3-pointer to narrow the score to one point (69-68) with 10 seconds to go, and converting two free throws for another one-point deficit (71-70) with three seconds to go.
The game ended with multiple trips to the free-throw line for the Knights, with Hope fouling to hopefully convert on a miss, but Calvin made three of their last four free throws to seal the game at 74-70.
"As we look at it, there was about a four or five minute second-half run where we just didn't play very well together offensively. And then obviously the rebounding battle was won by (Calvin)," Mitchell said. "We're down by one point a couple times and we just couldn't secure a rebound with a chance to take the lead. Again, I'm proud of our fight. Hats off to Calvin for doing a great job on the glass."
Calvin owned a 41-26 advantage on the boards, with 15 offensive rebounds. Those offensive boards led to another Knight advantage, 16-7 in second-chance points.
"Those second opportunities (by Calvin) were the death of us," explained Mitchell.
Hope was led in double-digit scoring by four players: Lewis with a team-high 20 points, Beckman with 17, Granger of Lansing (Lansing Christian) with 16, and senior forward Dennis Towns of Flint (Flint Powers Catholic) with 12. Towns also led Hope in rebounds with 10 for his first double-double game of the season.
For Calvin, DeVries finished with 29 and Tony DeWitt was the second-leading Knight scorer with 12. Reserve Jason Walter led the Knights with 12 rebounds.
Hope plays next at home on Saturday, January 12, facing Adrian College at 3:00 p.m. There will be no JV game.