by Alan Babbitt
A hearty helping of assists fed a hungry Hope College women's basketball team on Tuesday night at DeVos Fieldhouse.
The unbeaten and nationally ranked Flying Dutch rolled to a 92-41 victory against Grace Christian University behind a second-half feast.
Hope outscored the Tigers, 54-15, after halftime. The Flying Dutch recorded 20 of their season-high 25 assists during the third and fourth quarters.
With a strong second-half performance and a 7-0 overall record, Hope has time to enjoy Thanksgiving before tipping off Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association play next week.
The Flying Dutch are ranked this week fifth in the D3hoops.com poll and sixth in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association poll.
"The difference between good and great for this team is razor thin when it comes to the defensive end and little things on the offensive end," head coach Brian Morehouse said. "In the first half, I thought we were off by (a small margin) where we needed to be. We came out very focused in the second half. Sixty-one percent shooting the third quarter. Sixty-one percent in the fourth quarter. I thought we cranked up our defense and got good things got done.
"I'm really happy with our second half heading into Thanksgiving."
Fifteen different players scored for the Flying Dutch against Grace Christian (3-10), including three who finished in double figures.
Junior guard Kenedy Schoonveld of Zeeland, Michigan (Holland Christian HS) and freshman forward Claire Baguley of Ada, Michigan (Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central) shared team-high honors with 13 points apiece.
Junior guard Sydney Muller of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Grand Rapids Christian) chipped in 10 points.
Junior forward Ashleigh Thomas of Shelby Township, Michigan (Lutheran North) scored nine points.
Senior guard Arika Tolbert of Lathrup Village, Michigan (Detroit Country Day) finished with a game-high five assists.
Freshman guard Meg Morehouse of Zeeland, Michigan (Zeeland East) grabbed a team-high five rebounds.
Hope forced a season-high 37 turnovers.
The Flying Dutch turned the ball over a season-low nine times.
Hope's next game is Wednesday, December 4 against Adrian College. Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. at DeVos Fieldhouse.