Women's Basketball is Tournament Title Holders Again by Downing Mount Union, 82-48

by Eva Dean Folkert

Sydney Muller poses for a portrait. Courteney Barnes poses for a portrait. Three weekend tournaments entered. Three weekend tournaments won.

And junior Sydney Muller of Grand Rapids (GR Christian HS) is 3-for-3 in the MVP department, too.

The nationally-ranked Hope College women's basketball team and guard Muller took home their third trophies of this young season by defeating host University of Mount Union in the finals of the M-Club Tournament on Saturday, 82-48, in Alliance, Ohio. 

The Flying Dutch also won a tournament at Augustana College (Illinois) on the first weekend of the season and at home last weekend, and Muller was the MVP in those tournaments as well.

Naturally then with those three tournament wins, Hope's record is 6-0 while the Purple Raiders fell to 4-1. 

Muller, pictured right, knocked down a team-high 21 points and nabbed a team-high seven steals to go toward her MVP résumé on Saturday. She was joined on the all-tournament team by junior forward Courtney Barnes of Mokena, Illinois (Lincoln Way-Central HS), pictured left, who scored 17 points on Saturday and 10 on Friday. Barnes also grabbed five rebounds against Mount Union.

"Courteney gave us a huge lift in the first half with her 12 points and shooting 6-for-6 in first quarter," said head coach Brian Morehouse. "Sydney Muller was very efficient with an 8-for-9 shooting performance, 3-for-3 from the three-point line."

The first quarter was uncharacteristically close for Hope. The Flying Dutch have a penchant of jumping out to big double-digit leads to start, but the Purple Raiders stayed close and even led. At least for four minutes.

Down 10-7 midway through the opening stanza, Hope went on a run of eight unanswered points and would not relinquish the lead after that. By holding Mount Union to just six points in the second quarter, the Flying Dutch had built a 17-point advantage at half, 38-21. Their largest lead was the final score.

Hope defense was once again as potent as its offense, causing 32 Purple Raider turnovers off of which the Flying Dutch scored 36 points. The Flying Dutch have held every opponent they've facewd to less than 50 points.

"I thought our point guards set the tone for the game with their pressure," Morehouse said.  "I was very impressed with our attention to detail on our scouting report which led to limiting their transition and three-point shots."

While Hope connected on 44% of its shots (33-75), the Purple Raiders made good on just 31.4% (16-51) of theirs. The Flying Dutch were 38.1% (8-21) from the three-point line and 61% from the free-throw line (8-13).

Hope also slightly outrebounded Mount Union, 34-31, with junior center Olivia Voskuil of Holland (Holland Christian HS) and junior center Ashleigh Thomas of Shelby Township (Lutheran North HS) recording team-high honors with six boards apiece.

Morehouse and his team are looking forward to returning home for a game before the Thanksgivng break. The Flying Dutch take on Grace Christian College on Tuesday, November 26 in DeVos Fieldhouse at 7:30 p.m.