By Eva Dean Folkert
After a little more than a week off, the Hope women's basketball team used the first half of their MIAA league opener against Olivet College to brush off a little rust. By the second half, the Flying Dutch were running on all cylinders and cruised past the Comets, 81-56, in DeVos Fieldhouse on Wednesday night.
And it was junior Francesca Buchanan (pictured), plus defense and rebounding, that mostly powered their victory.
On the boards, the Flying Dutch really rose above their competition. Hope outrebounded Olivet, 61-31, with every Hope players pulling down at least one board.
Buchanan of Grant, Michigan (Sparta HS), though, owned the glass for Hope. She grabbed 19 rebounds, her career high. (The single-game Hope rebounding record is held by Anne Mulder with 24 in 1980.) Buchanan earned a double-double by scoring 18 points as well.
"I just did what we had been talking about in practice. I boxed out and went for the rebound," said Buchanan. "We talk a lot about gang rebounding, everybody falling on the ball. And I was like, I have to be a part of that. I think I just stepped up in that way and made sure I boxed my girl out and went after that ball. It's a good feeling when that ball is in your hands."
Hope also forced Olivet into 19 turnovers and allowed the Comets to shoot only 30.2 percent from the field for the game (and 16.1 percent in the first half).
But Olivet's zone defense with a full-court press forced the Flying Dutch into 14 first-half turnovers of their own, an unusually high number for 20 minutes of play for Hope since on the season, they average 16 turnovers per game. (Hope ended the night with 23 turnovers.) A 12-point Flying Dutch run late in the first quarter, after a five-minute scoring drought and a couple two-point leads by the Comets, got Hope back on track. At the end of the first quarter, Hope led 20-10, and at the half, they owned a 31-18 lead.
"We knew that their press was going to be tough and their zone is a difficult match-up zone so we knew that turnovers were going to be a part of the game," said head coach Brian Morehouse. "We took a few turnovers that I wanted to take instead of just throwing the ball up and letting them get a runaway lay-up going the other way. Those were coach's turnovers because I wanted our kids, instead of throwing risky pass, to just take a turnover, hand the ball to the referee and say, let's go play defense."
To start the second half, Hope charged out quickly with 11 points in the first two-and-half minutes, due mostly to freshman Kenedy Schoonveld of Zeeland, Michigan (Holland Christian) who accounted for five points in that stretch, along with four free throws by Buchanan and a layup by senior Madison Geers of Scottville, Michigan (Mason County Central). The third quarter ended with Hope up, 55-36.
By the fourth quarter, every Flying Dutch player saw playing time in building Hope's lead to as many as 26 points on two occasions.
"Our strength is our depth," said Morehouse. "We have people that start, but we have a team, we have players...We've got a lot of interchangeable parts."
Schoonveld was Hope's other scorer in double figures with 13 points, 10 of them coming in the second half. Senior Jacquelyn Schwark of Fraser, Michigan (Lutheran North) and freshman Olivia Voskuil of Holland, Michigan (Holland Christian HS) each grabbed seven rebounds.
"It's so fun to have 15 players who can go in and get rebounds and make shots too," said Schwark. "I love the depth of this team. Any five can be on the floor and the other 10 are so confident those people are going to get it done."
The Flying Dutch had 37 points from their bench. Hope shot 40.6% from the field and 69.6% from the free throw line. The win moves the Flying Dutch to 4-0 on the season and 1-0 in the MIAA.
Olivet, 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the MIAA, was led by Kadesha Taylor and Shannon Dingman with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
The Flying Dutch travel to Adrian on Saturday, December 2. Game time is 3:00 p.m. Hope's next home action is Wednesday, December 6, against Great Lakes Christian College at 7:30 p.m.