by Alan Babbitt
Lauren Newman wouldn't let the second-ranked Hope College women's basketball team overlook the first opponent in the Post-Exam Jam.
Not even with a tantalizing matchup of Top 5 teams looming on the horizon.
The starting point guard for the Flying Dutch set the tone early for a 92-37 victory against Finlandia University on Friday. Newman, pictured, scored eight of her team-high 12 points during the first quarter as Hope raced out to a 31-4 lead.
Hope improved to 7-0 overall while earning a showdown with Thomas More University (Kentucky), which is ranked No. 3 in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association NCAA Division III poll and No. 4 in the D3hoops.com rankings. The Flying Dutch are No. 2 in both polls.
Thomas More (12-0) defeated Baldwin-Wallace (No. 19 D3hoops) in Friday's first game, 80-56.
The Hope-Thomas More game is a rematch of the 2018 sectional final that Thomas More won at DeVos Fieidhouse. Tipoff is 3 p.m.
"I knew she was not going to let us lower our level of play tonight," head coach Brian Morehouse said of Newman, a sophomore from Flushing, Michigan (Flushing HS). "All people had to do was watch her level of effort from the first tip and know that the standard they were going to be held to."
Newman made all of three of her field-goal attempts during the first quarter, including one 3-pointer. She also had a three-point play with a made free throw.
The Flying Dutch overwhelmed Finlandia (0-10) by shooting 52.9 percent from the field (9-17) and 90.9 percent from the foul line (10-11) during the opening 10 minutes. Hope sank three 3-pointers during the first quarter.
While hungry to play Thomas More again, Newman said her self-motivation for the Finlandia game went beyond a possible rematch.
"I think showing the younger players and modeling for everyone else that, just because you're playing a team, not on the same level as you, you don't get to play to their level," Newman said. "Teaching that consistency of how we play all the time (was a driving factor)."
Sixteen different players scored for Hope. Freshman guard Kasey DeSmit of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville) chipped in a career-high 11 points off the bench.