by Eva Dean Folkert
For the sixth year in a row, the nationally-ranked Hope College women's basketball team is the champion of the Hope Tipoff Classic. And for the second weekend in a row, Hope guard Sydney Muller is a tournament MVP.
The Flying Dutch claimed their home-opening tournament on Saturday at DeVos Fieldhouse with a convincing 80-30 win over Hanover College (Indiana). Hope is 4-0 on the season while Hanover fell to 1-1.
Muller, pictured left, had another effective all-around weekend in being honored as this weekend's MVP. The junior from Grand Rapids (GR Christian HS), who was also the tournament MVP at the Augustana College Tournament last weekend, scored 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting while going 2-for-2 from the free throw line on Saturday afternoon. On Friday night, Muller tallied eight points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Also joining Muller on the all-tournament team from Hope was sophomore guard Kasey DeSmit from Hudsonville (Hudsonville HS), pictured right, who scored 13 points on Friday and added eight points on Saturday. Kristin Mills and Alexis Nall from Hanover, Jade Mosier from Saint Mary's and Katie Lundeen from Finlandia rounded out the all-tournament team.
"The number one thing I think Sydney Mueller is doing is Sydney Mueller is playing Hope college defense," head coach Brian Morehouse in explaining Muller's effective start to the 2019 season. "Last year it was new to her, but she got better as the season went along. This year, she looks like she's been playing it her whole life. And that's been the difference for Sydney. She's so active right now on the defensive end. She's in the right places offensively because she's got that confidence defensively."
"I'm just really proud to be a part of this program," Muller said. "Honestly, our team's ball moment was great today. People were finding me, I was finding them. It wasn't just me. We all played really well together."
Hope opened its game against Hanover by jumping out to a 11-2 lead with 5:46 to go in the first quarter. Muller scored nine of her 11 points in the opening stanza, setting the tone and shooting perfectly from the field, as the Flying Dutch tallied 21 points to the Panther's six.
The Flying Dutch cooled off a bit in the second quarter, scoring just 11 points to go into half time, 32-13, over the Panthers. "They went zone," Morehouse explained. "I don't think we attacked it great. We didn't work enough against it this week in practice. So that was a little bit of a speed bump (in the second quarter).
In the third quarter, Hope came out hot, shooting 63 percent from the floor to achieve its highest-scoring quarter with 25 points. "We made a couple small adjustments at halftime and the players really, really implemented those in the third quarter," Morehouse added. "And that's the maturity of this team. That's going from freshmen and sophomores to sophomores and juniors. So that's been a great move for our team."
During the last 10 minutes of the game, the Flying Dutch showed off the talent in their deep bench by going on a 21-point run. While the Panthers could score only two points on two free throws in the fourth quarter, Hope got their 23-point total from seven different players, six of them being non-starters.
Fifteen Hope players got in the game and 14 of them scored. Junior guard Kenedy Schoonveld of Zeeland (Holland Christian HS) tallied nine points and led Hope with five rebounds. Four players had eight points: Junior guard Lauren Newman, junior forward Courteney Barnes, freshman guard Meg Morehouse and DeSmit.
Junior center Olivia Voskuil of Holland (Holland Christian HS) was a force in the middle defensively with five blocks.
Hope travels to Ohio next weekend to play in the Mount Union Tournament. The Flying Dutch take on Case Western Reserve on Friday, November 22 at 8 p.m.