by Eva Dean Folkert
The Hope College women's basketball team's 72-63 win over Bluffton (OH) University on Saturday night featured a well-balanced offense and shutdown defense in claiming the Bluffton Holiday Tournament title.
The win keeps nationally-ranked Hope perfect on the season with a 12-0 record while Bluffton suffered just their second loss and now stand 8-2.
"We got good contributions from a lot of different people today compared to yesterday," said head coach Brian Morehouse. "The ball moved better for us today. The biggest key though was our play defensively. Bluffton is a very good offensive team. They average around 45% from the field and we held them to 28%."
Bluffton started fast, scoring the first four points of the game but Hope quickly caught and overtook the Beavers when center Francesca Buchanan's steal fed guard Lauren Newman's layup to make the score 7-6 at the 6:05 mark of the first quarter.
The lead would be Hope's the rest of the way, though Bluffton tied the score in the first period and got within a bucket in the third. The Flying Dutch built their largest advantage in the fourth quarter, going up 14 points after a jumper by junior Buchanan of Grant, Michigan (Sparta HS) put Hope ahead, 59-45, with 8:17 to go.
Bluffton's Abigail O'Donnell scored a layup to cut the lead to five, 65-60, at 1:50 in the fourth, but the Flying Dutch outscored the Beavers, 7-3, in the little time remaining.
Senior Madison Geers (pictured) of Scottville, Michigan (Mason Co. Central HS) had another outstanding performance for the Flying Dutch, scoring 19 points after leading Hope with 21 points over Mount Union the day before. For her overall consistent play, Geers was named the tournament's MVP. Buchanan joined her on the all-tournament team.
"Madison had tremendous back-to-back games and her senior leadership really showed," said Morehouse. "And Frankie really carried us with rebounding, especially in the first half today."
While Buchanan led the Flying Dutch in rebounding with 11 while adding eight points, freshman Kenedy Schoonveld of Zeeland, Michigan (Holland Christian HS) was Hope's other scorer in double figures with 14. Freshman Newman of Flushing, Michigan (Flushing HS) scored eight as well. Freshman Olivia Voskuil of Holland, Michigan (Holland Christian HS) was perfect from the floor (3-for-3), scoring six points while grabbing six rebounds too.
Hope vastly improved their shooting percentage from the night before (when they shot 30% against Mount Union) by making 50.9% of their field goal attempts against Bluffton.
As they now wrap up the non-league portion of their schedule, the Flying Dutch —ranked 4th by the WBCA Coaches poll and 7th by D3hoops.com — will be on the road to Trine University, owners of an 11-1 record and the MIAA defending champions. The first showdown between these two MIAA favorite tips at 7:30 p.m.