The seniors' willingness to support an adjustment to the playing rotation paved the way for a 69-57 Flying Dutch victory Wednesday night at DeVos Fieldhouse, head coach Brian Morehouse said.
Unbeaten Hope — No. 2 in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association poll and No. 3 by D3hoops.com — went to a three-guard rotation to counter Albion's aggressive defense and spread-out offense.
The Flying Dutch outscored Albion 32-23 during the second half to secure their 18th win of the season and ninth in Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association play.
"Two of the MVPs tonight are Heather Randall and Jacquelyn Schwark for allowing a coach to make a nontraditional move in not playing them in the second half, so we could have a little better coverage defensively," Morehouse said. "Yet they were the most vocal kids on the bench. They were the most energetic. They didn't let it affect their attitudes.
"Any time you make a switch like that, all the freshmen and young kids are looking around 'I wonder how the seniors are going to handle it?' They handled it like the amazing seniors they are. They make me look smart because they have the team-first attitudes that make up our program."
Photo by Kenedy Schoonveld by Lynne Powe
Hope searched for answers after Albion (12-6, 6-4 MIAA) erupted for 25 second-quarter points and cut the Flying Dutch's lead to 37-34 at halftime.
The Britons went 6-of-7 from 3-point range during the second quarter — getting three from Evelyn Wischmeyer, two from Brittany Leutz and one from Tierra Orban.
Using a full-court, trapping defense, Albion forced four of Hope's 15 turnovers and cooled off an offense that had staked the Flying Dutch to a 28-9 lead early in the second quarter.
Morehouse inserted sophomore guard Arika Tolbert of Lathrup Village, Michigan (Detroit Country Day HS) into the starting lineup for the third quarter.
After Albion took a 45-43 lead on a Leutz 3-pointer a minute into the third quarter, the Britons did not score again. The Flying Dutch finished the period on a 12-0 run after evening the score on a steal and a fast-break layup from freshman Jess Moorman of Northville, Michigan (Northville).
Hope reduced its turnovers in the second half to six from nine in the first half.
"I think ball movement was a big thing for us," senior Madison Geers of Scottville, Michigan (Mason County Central) said. "Their press kind of sped us up. We were able to slow down in the third quarter a little bit more. pass the ball around and get good looks that we wanted."
Geers was one of three Hope players to score in double figures. She had 13 points.
Freshman guard Kenedy Schoonveld of Zeeland, Michigan (Holland Christian) led the Flying Dutch with 14 points.
Junior forward Francesca Buchanan of Grant, Michigan (Sparta) added 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Hope returns to action on Saturday at 3 p.m. at DeVos Fieldhouse against nationally ranked Trine, whose only MIAA loss of the season was to the Flying Dutch on January 3 in Angola, Indiana.