by Abigail Krueger '21
Tough non-conference losses to two talented Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletics Association (WIAC) squads on the road made for a weekend of growth for the Hope College men's basketball team.
After dropping a Friday night game to nationally-ranked Wisconsin-Platteville, Hope was not able to take down host Wisconsin-Stevens Point and lost 74-65.
Heading into exam week, the Flying Dutchmen have a lot to learn from a two-loss weekend in Wisconsin.
"It's great to play teams like this, especially on the road," Mitchell added. "They expose the things we need to work on. We're in a great position."
The Flying Dutchmen now hold 4-3 record, while the Pointers, honorable mention in the D3hoops.com rankings, remain undefeated at 6-0.
Trailing the Pointers from the opening tip, the Flying Dutchmen went on a 12-2 run to take their first lead, 18-17, at the 8:24 mark after a layup by freshman guard Clayton Dykhouse of Zeeland (Zeeland East HS). The half finished as a back-and-forth battle with Wisconsin leading 36-29 after the first 20 minutes..
Momentum dwindled for the Flying Dutchmen in the second half as the Pointers took a 12-point lead, 46-34, with 15 minutes of play remaining. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Dykhouse and sophomore Tyler George of Ada (Forest Hills Central HS) added some offensive fuel to cut Steven Point's lead to six points with 12:43 to go.
Two more back-to-back three pointers by freshman guard Evan Thomas of Okemos (Okemos HS) and senior guard Riley Lewis of Williamston (Williamston HS) narrowed the scoring gap to 52-51 with 8:50 minutes remaining.
The Flying Dutchmen could not hold off the Pointers over the next seven minutes, though, falling into another 12-point gap with 1:50 remaining in the game.
"Today, overall, we played better than we did the night before," head coach Greg Mitchell said of the team's effort. "We played two really good teams, but we didn't do a good enough job of handling the ball."
Thomas lead Hope in scoring with 13 points. Junior center Preston Granger of of Lansing (Lansing Christian), sophomore forward Jeff Bikus of Hawthorn Woods, Illinois (Mundelein HS), and George followed with 8 points a piece.
Junior center Ryan Gamm of Rockford (Rockford HS) grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
Hope will take a 10-day break before playing in Orlando, Florida as hosts at the RDV SportsPlex on Tuesday and Wednesday, December 17 and 18. The Flying Dutchmen open against Finlandia University. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.