By Greg Chandler
The Hope College women's basketball team fell short of a Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament championship in an epic battle with Trine University Saturday night at the MTI Center in Angola, Indiana.
The Thunder scored the last six points for a 70-65 double overtime victory to clinch an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
It was the second consecutive year the Flying Dutch and Thunder needed overtime to settle the MIAA tournament title, as Hope won 68-62 in last year's tournament final at DeVos Fieldhouse. It also was the first double overtime game in the 27-year history of the conference tournament.
Hope, now 23-4 on the season, will now wait until Monday afternoon to find out if it will receive an at-large bid to the Division III tournament. Coach Brian Morehouse said given Hope's record and strength of schedule, the Flying Dutch should receive a bid.
"We have four losses on the year. What does that mean? We lost to the No. 2 team in the nation (Thomas More) and Trine is (ranked) No. 5," Morehouse said. "Those are our losses. (That's) a pretty good resume. We have to hope it's good enough."
Hope took a 65-64 lead on two free throws by sophomore guard Kenedy Schoonveld of Zeeland, Michigan (Holland Christian HS) with 2:21 remaining in the second overtime. Schoonveld's free throws came after she was fouled by Trine forward Brandi Dawson, the three-time MIAA Most Valuable Player. Dawson fouled out on the play.
But Trine, now 25-2, came back. Cassidy Williams scored on a drive to the basket 18 seconds later to put the Thunder ahead, and a three-point play by Montana Martin with 17.3 seconds to play proved too much for the Flying Dutch to overcome.
The game featured multiple runs by both teams. Hope scored the game's first six points, but the Thunder responded with a 17-3 run to take a 17-9 lead early in the second quarter. The Flying Dutch bounced back with a 12-1 burst, highlighted by a 3-point basket and a jumper on back-to-back possessions by sophomore forward Olivia Voskuil of Holland, Michigan (Hollland Christian HS) to grab a 21-18 advantage. The Flying Dutch led 31-25 at halftime.
Hope twice opened up 9-point leads in the third quarter, but the Thunder scored the last seven points of the quarter to trim the Flying Dutch lead to 45-43 heading into the fourth quarter.
It looked as if Hope might pull out the win in regulation, as Voskuil scored on a driving layup off a steal with 42 seconds remaining to give the Flying Dutch a 57-55 lead. But Williams tied the score with a layup nine seconds later. Hope was called for a shot clock violation on its next possesion, and the game went to overtime.
In the first overtime, both teams struggled to score. Hope missed three foul shots, while Trine missed four straight charity tosses when the Thunder had an opportunity to ice the victory. With 3.6 seconds remaining and Hope trailing by two, sophomore forward Mallory Gerber of Schaumburg, Illinois (Schaumburg HS) was fouled on a 3-point shot attempt. Gerber missed her first foul shot, but made the next two to tie the score at 60-60, sending the game to a second extra period.
Four players scored in double figures for Hope, led by sophomore guard Sydney Muller of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Grand Rapids Christian HS) with 14 points. Schoonveld added 13 points and seven rebounds. Voskuil added 12 points, five rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots as she had the primary defensive assignment against Dawson. Senior center Francesca Buchanan of Grant, Michigan (Sparta HS) contributed 11 points and seven boards.
Williams led Trine with 20 points, while Dawson added 14 despite being held to 5-of-14 shooting from the field.
"I thought Voskuil and (Gerber) did a nice job on (Dawson)," Morehouse said. "I thought we did a nice job with our guards outside, pressuring pretty well. We took away a couple of their base sets that they'd get the ball to Brandi on. She missed a couple of shots she normally makes. She is obviously a great player."