by Greg Chandler
On the first possession of Saturday's women's basketball rivalry game between Hope College and Calvin University, Hope junior center Ashleigh Thomas, pictured left, rebounded a missed layup and drew a foul on the Knights' leading scorer, Gabby Timmer.
Thomas, from Shelby Township, Michigan (Macomb Lutheran North HS), hit one of two free throws for the game's first point, but in the mind of Hope coach Brian Morehouse, her play set the tone for the rest of the night.
"I thought that energy play – her going to get an offensive rebound – set the tone for the rest of us, to say, 'do what Ashleigh did' – get on the offensive glass and play together," Morehouse said.
Two minutes later, Timmer went to the bench with her second foul, and Hope's defense kicked into high gear, holding Calvin scoreless for more than five minutes while jumping out to a 9-0 lead.
The Knights never recovered, as the Flying Dutch went on to defeat Calvin, 64-38, at Van Noord Arena in Grand Rapids. The 38 points were the second-fewest Hope had allowed Calvin to score in Morehouse's tenure as coach of the Flying Dutch, and the fewest it had allowed its rival in a game in 19 years.
The Flying Dutch, ranked No. 5 in the nation by d3hoops.com, improved to 2-0 in Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association play and 9-0 overall heading into final exams next week. The Knights dropped their MIAA opener and fell to 6-4 overall.
"I thought we came out and managed our energy well at the start of the game," Morehouse said. "We got off to a really good start. Defensively we were in the right spots, (and we) got a couple of early buckets … I thought the ball moved well, we turned them over."
Hope led 16-7 after the first quarter, then opened the second quarter on a 10-2 run, capped off by a 3-pointer from junior guard Kenedy Schoonveld of Zeeland, Michigan (Holland Christian HS), pictured right, to take a 26-9 midway through the quarter.
Despite not getting a single point from Timmer in the first half due to her foul trouble, Calvin fought back to cut the Hope lead to 29-16 at the half.
That would be as close as the Knights would get in this game. The Flying Dutch continued their relentless defense in the second half, and Hope pulled away. Hope opened the half with an 11-4 run, with baskets by five different players, capped off by a layup by freshman forward Claire Baguley of Ada, Michigan (Forest Hills Central HS), and Hope led 40-20. Morehouse said that run was a key to the victory.
"They could have scored 5-6 points, taken it down to seven points. Instead, we weathered the storm, scored a couple of buckets, and then, we're off to the races," Morehouse said.
Hope led 46-26 going into the fourth quarter, and led by as many as 28 points in the fourth quarter in defeating Calvin for the sixth straight time. Calvin leads the all-time series 71-53, but Hope is 52-50 against the Knights since the MIAA began to sponsor women's basketball as a sport in the 1978-79 season and 38-15 since 2000.
Hope's defense harassed Calvin into 28 turnovers, which the Flying Dutch converted into 21 points. The Dutch also limited the Knights to 31 percent shooting from the field (15 of 49) and outrebounded Calvin 47-32, including 19 offensive rebounds.
Hope placed three players in double figures. Scoring 11 points each were Schoonveld and junior Sydney Muller of Grand Rapids, Michigan (GR Christian HS). Junior Olivia Voskuil of Holland, Michigan (Holland Christian HS) chipped in 10 points, five rebounds, and two blocked shots. Junior Lauren Newman of Flushing, Michigan (Flushing HS) added nine points. Muller also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds and added five steals. Thomas pulled down seven boards.
Timmer, who came into the game averaging 18.2 points per contest, was limited to six points by Hope's defense. Stephanie Coors and Baylee Galan-Browne led the Knights with eight points apiece.
Hope returns the action next Saturday for a battle of the unbeatens as the Flying Dutch host MIAA rival Albion College (8-0). Tip-off at DeVos Fieldhouse is 3 p.m.