Men's Basketball Rides Record-Tying Defensive Effort in Benedictine Victory

by Abigail Krueger '21

A dominating Dutch defense matched the Hope College men's basketball record for fewest points allowed in a half in the DeVos Fieldhouse history on Wednesday.

The stingy effort paved the way for a 66-57 victory over Benedictine University (Illinois) that improved the Flying Dutchmen's record to 2-0 overall.

"It's pretty obvious that our focus in the first half was where it needed to be defensively," head coach Greg Mitchell said. "That is as good a half that I've ever seen out of a team that I've been fortunate enough to coach at Hope. We anticipated their actions. We were aggressive. We were communicative. We rebounded the ball well, so that was outstanding."

The Flying Dutchmen built a 36-15 halftime lead with a record-tying effort on defense.

The 15 points allowed marked the first time in 13 years a Hope opponent had been held that low in a half at DeVos Fieldhouse. On January 18, 2006, Hope defeated Adrian, 77-51, after limiting the Bulldogs to a 15-point first half.

Benedictine shot 20.8 percent from the floor during the first half (5-14), including 8.3 percent from 3-point range (1-12). The Eagles were also 30.8 percent from the foul line (4-13).

Major contributors to the shut-down in the first half included forwards Ryan Gamm and Jake Honer whom Mitchell coined as the "grit and soul of the team."

Honer, a junior from Angola, Indiana (Angola) sparked the Flying Dutchmen with an early offensive rebound that led to a 3-pointer for senior guard Riley Lewis of Williamston, Michigan (Williamston). Hope grabbed a 12-2 lead on the shot midway through the first half and surged ahead, 32-8, over the next eight minutes.

"In a low-scoring game like that, rebounds like Jake's are worth a ton," Mitchell said."He's going to put his fingerprint on a game with his toughness."

Gamm, a junior from Rockford, Michigan (Rockford) made two steals and three rebounds during the first half. He brings a deep understanding of the game that allowed him to help direct his teammates on the court defensively, Mitchell said.

"Ryan's the definition of a selfless basketball player," Mitchell said. "That's what it's all about to be a good defensive player."

Hope overcame its own offensive struggles after halftime to earn the non-conference victory.

The Flying Dutchmen made only 40 percent of their free-throw attempts for the game (12-25).

Junior forward Preston Granger of Lansing, Michigan (Lansing Christian) led Hope with a team-high 18 points. He also pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds.

Lewis chipped in 15 points. Junior guard Calvin Hackert of Ludington, Michigan (Ludington) added 11 points, including a team-high three 3-pointers.

Freshman guard Evan Thomas of Okemos, Michigan (Okemos) also reached double-figures in rebounds with 11. He finished with eight points.

Hope's next game is Saturday, November 23 at DeVos Fieldhouse against Anderson University (Indiana). Tipoff is 3 p.m. | PO Box 9000, Holland, Michigan 49422