By Greg Chandler
The eighth-ranked Hope College women's basketball team put together its best shooting performance of the season Friday night as the Flying Dutch defeated Saint Mary's College 75-36 to advance to the championship game of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament.
Hope, now 23-3 on the season, will meet regular-season champion Trine University, an 80-43 winner over Alma College in Friday's other tournament semifinal, in the championship game Saturday night at the MTI Center in Angola, Indiana. Tipoff is 7:30 p.m.
The Flying Dutch, much as they did in two earlier wins over Saint Mary's, jumped out to a big lead early, hitting 67 percent of their field-goal attempts in the first quarter to take a 27-11 lead. They finished the night shooting a season-best 55.4 percent from the field (31 of 56), while limiting the Belles to 26.9 percent shooting from the field and forcing 25 turnovers.
"I thought we played well together," head coach Brian Morehouse said. "We shot a high percentage, which means the ball is moving, we're defending, we're getting great shots and our players were able to make the good looks they got."
Hope, the No. 2 seed in the MIAA tournament, held sixth-seeded Saint Mary's (11-16) to five second quarter points in building a 44-16 halftime lead, and led by as many as 40 points in the second half.
Sophomore guard Kenedy Schoonveld of Zeeland, Michigan (Holland Christian HS), pictured, led the Flying Dutch with 15 points, hitting six of her seven field goal attempts. Schoonveld, who earlier this week was named first team All-MIAA for the second straight season, has taken on a more vocal leadership role with the Flying Dutch as the season has progressed.
"On Monday, she stepped out in front of the team and said 'the only thing that matters is this week of practice and our game Friday night, and we've got to be locked into that game,'" Morehouse said. "She repeated it as the week went along. That comes a lot better from players than it does (from) coaches.
"I just love the leadership component that Kenedy is bringing to our program right now - her willingness to speak up and just say what needs to be said instead of waiting for other people (to speak up)."
Schoonveld scored nine of her points in the second quarter, including a couple of coast-to-coast drives after stealing the ball from the Belles.
"It was nice having the lead after the first quarter, but we knew we couldn't let up," Schoonveld said. "We couldn't bring our energy down. We couldn't bring our defensive intensity down."
Sophomore forward Olivia Voskuil of Holland, Michigan (Holland Christian HS), who earlier this week was named the MIAA's Defensive Player of the Year, made all five of her field goal tries in scoring 11 points for the Flying Dutch. She also blocked two shots and altered several others with her 6-foot-3 frame.
Senior center Francesca Buchanan of Grant, Michigan (Sparta HS) grabbed a team-high six rebounds to go along with six points, three assists and a pair of steals.
Carin Kaminski led Saint Mary's with eight points. Hope held Giavanna Paradiso, the Belles' leading scorer on the season at 16 points per game, to six points.
"I thought we had a lot of people tonight that played with a passion to get to the championship game," Morehouse said. "As good as we played today, we'll have to play even better to have a chance against Trine. They're really good."