by Alan Babbitt
Three hundred forty nine days ago, Danny Beckman suffered a season-ending knee injury during a Hope College men's basketball game at DeVos Fieldhouse. An arduous rehabilitation followed — testing and frustrating him, too.
Breakthrough nights like Wednesday's 87-74 Flying Dutchmen victory at Alma College made every challenging moment of the recovery worth it.
The sophomore guard from Shelby, Michigan (Shelby HS) come off the bench to bury a collegiate-high 18 points on a career-best six 3-pointers. He helped propel Hope back within one game of first place in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association standings.
Beckman, pictured, shot 85.7 percent from the field and 3-point range (6-of-7) in 17 minutes of action. He also contributed two steals and one assist to just one turnover.
"I'm super proud of Danny Beckman," head coach Greg Mitchell said. "To go 6-of-7 from the arc is uncanny. The immediate trust our guys showed in him, making the extra passes to find him, is pretty awesome."
Beckman doubled his point total for the season at an opportune time for the Flying Dutchmen, who improved to 10-6 overall and 3-2 in MIAA play. With Trine's win at Albion Wednesday, Hope trails co-leaders Albion, Olivet and Trine by one game.
The Flying Dutchmen's next three games are against Olivet, Albion, and Trine. Tipoff is 7 p.m. Saturday, January 19 at Olivet.
In the first half, Beckman sank all three of his 3-point attempts for nine points as the Flying Dutchmen raced to a 47-32 lead at the break.
Junior guard Riley Lewis of Williamston, Michigan (Williamston HS) scored 13 of his game-high 25 points during the first half. Guard Steven Harvey topped Alma (3-14, 3-2 MIAA) with 25 points.
Lewis, the nation's leading free-throw shooter, went 2-for-3 from the line to end a streak of 51 consecutive free throws that dated back to November 17. The national record for a single-season is 66. Lewis is still shooting 96.8 percent from the line (60-62).
Mitchell praised Beckman's determination throughout his remarkable recovery from an ACL tear.
"Nobody understands how hard he worked in the offseason. He took it on, not only he wanted to be back, but to be better than he was before," Mitchell said. "That was hard for him. I met with him a couple of weeks ago. He was a little frustrated. The best part was how he showed up the next day to be the hardest worker on our team. He deserves everything he's getting."
Beckman and Lewis contributed to the Flying Dutchmen's surge to a season-high 15 3-pointers on 46.9 percent shooting (15-32).
Lewis made five 3-pointers for the second consecutive game. Sophomore guard Calvin Hackert of Ludington, Michigan (Ludington) chipped in two en route to 10 points off the bench.
Senior forward Teddy Ray of Fort Wayne, Indiana (Homestead HS) and senior guard Jason Beckman of Shelby, Michigan (Shelby) each had one 3-pointer. Ray finished with 10 points, while Jason Beckman totaled nine points.
In the paint, senior forward Dennis Towns of Flint, Michigan (Powers Catholic) recorded a double-double for Hope with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
"Dennis had a warrior mentality all the night," Mitchell said. "It was a tough start on the road against a really good team. He showed us the way."