by Alan Babbitt
A shorthanded Hope College men's basketball team banded together to knock off one of three teams tied for first place in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
Down two key guards to injury, including the MIAA's leading scorer, the Flying Dutchmen defeated Albion College, 77-70, Wednesday night at DeVos Fieldhouse.
Hope (11-7 overall, 4-3 MIAA) relied on one of the best defensive efforts of the season. And a balanced scoring effort with four players reaching double figures.
Photo of Dennis Towns by Lynne Powe
"As I told the guys in the locker room, I'm as pleased about a win as any in awhile, maybe all five years here, given our situation, Albion playing great basketball, and we're coming off a sideways game on Saturday (in a loss at Olivet College)" head coach Greg Mitchell said. "Credit our seniors for playing like seniors. We had great balance, got to the line.
"The defensive first half was a team that was locked in. That said a lot to me. (The win) keeps us in the hunt, keeps us in the hunt."
The Flying Dutchmen never trailed, jumping out to a 15-4 lead behind an 11-0 run early in the first half.
Hope went on to build a 39-27 halftime lead that marked the fewest points the Flying Dutchmen have allowed in a half this season.
Albion (12-6, 5-2 MIAA) rallied in the second half but could not get closer than four points.
Towns shot 66.7 percent from the field (6-9) en route to a career-high in points.
Lewis sank all seven of his free-throw attempts to raise his NCAA Division III-leading percentage to 97.1 percent (67-69). He also recorded four assists.
The Flying Dutchmen finished 95.8 percent from the foul line (23-24). Hope outscored Albion 23-6 at the foul line.
Forward Teddy Ray of Fort Wayne, Indiana (Homestead) chipped in 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Center Preston Granger of Lansing, Michigan (Lansing Christian) added 11 points and seven rebounds.
Hope's next game is Saturday at 3 p.m. at DeVos Fieldhouse against Trine.