Women's Basketball Led by Two Sophomores, Wins Big at Alma College

by Eva Dean Folkert

Mallory Gerber poses for a portrait Two career-high scoring efforts by sophomores Mallory Gerber and Ashleigh Thomas highlighted the Hope women's basketball team's 83-51 victory at Alma College on Saturday. Both players came in from off the bench to lend a large offensive helping hand in resetting the Flying Dutch following a tough, league loss to MIAA-leader Trine a week ago.

Now that Hope is back to its winning ways, the nationally-ranked Flying Dutch are 17-3 overall and 9-2 in the MIAA, firmly in second place. Alma is 10-11 overall and 5-7 in the MIAA, tied for fifth place.

Gerber of Schaumberg, Illinois (Schaumberg HS), pictured right, and Thomas of Shelby Township (Lutheran North HS), pictured left, scored 18 and 15 points, respectively. Gerber did so on 6-for-12 shooting from the field (4-of-10 from behind the arc) and 2-for-3 from the free-throw line in 16 minutes of play. Thomas shot 5-for-8 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free-throw line in 22 minutes of competition.

Off to an entire week due to inclement weather that cancelled classes at Hope for a couple days and postponed MIAA play throughout the state in the middle of the week, the Flying Dutch got off to a bit of a slow start in the first half, scoring 14 and 18 points in the first and second quarters, respectively.

Hope, however, held its largest lead over the Scots by 16 points, 27-11, at the 2:07 mark when Thomas sank two free throws.

After the halftime break, which Hope led, 32-21, the Flying Dutch went on an offensive scoring jag, netting 51 points in the second half on 50% shooting, a 13% improvement from their first-half efforts when they shot 37.6%. For the game, Hope shot 44.1% from the field while Alma scored on 35.7% of its shots.

Though Alma got as close as five points, 32-27, just a minute into the third quarter, Hope's pressure defense, that forced Alma into 26 turnovers, and its sharper shooting accuracy kept widening the Flying Dutch's lead. At the end of the third, the Flying Dutch were up by 19, 58-39.

In the fourth quarter, there would be no letting up for Hope as it stretched its largest lead of the game to 34 points when sophomore center Courteney Barnes of Mokena, Illinois (Lincoln Way-Central HS) scored a layup off an assist from junior guard Arika Tolbert of Lathrup Village (Detroit Country Day HS) with 1:41 to go in the game.

Joining Gerber and Thomas in double-digit scoring was Francesca Buchanan of Grant (Sparta HS) with 18 points. The senior forward passed Karen Gingras-Hoekstra on Hope's all-time scoring list for fourth place. Buchanan now has 1,381 points for her career (Hoekstra had 1,368) and she needs 28 points more to pass Maura McAfee to move to third place all-time. 

Sophomore Kenedy Schoonveld of Zeeland (Holland Christian HS) added 11 points in the game as well, all scored in the second half.

The Flying Dutch play at home on Monday, February 4 versus Kalamazoo College, a weather-related rescheduled contest from last Wednesday. Tipoff at DeVos Fieldhouse is 7:30 p.m.