by Alan Babbitt
Amid the chaos and excitement, Kenedy Schoonveld and the Hope College women's basketball team zeroed in on what they needed to do.
In the midst of a difficult half unlike any other at DeVos Fieldhouse, the fourth-ranked Flying Dutch executed their final play perfectly — against an unbeaten and worthy foe.
Schoonveld's layup before time expired propelled Hope past Albion College, 45-43, on Saturday.
"A thousand people put their hands in the air and started to scream," head coach Brian Morehouse said, "and I was one of them."
Hope improved to 10-0 overall and 3-0 in Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association games heading into next week's RDV Sportsplex Classic in Orlando, Florida.
To end the the Flying Dutch's closest game of the year by far, Schoonveld, pictured, banked her layup off the glass after catching a lob from point guard Lauren Newman, who heaved the ball into play from in front of Hope's bench. There was 1.1 seconds on the clock when the play started.
"It was a great pass by Newman. I knew I didn't have a lot of time to get it off, so I was kind of scrambling," said Schoonveld, who netted a team-high 13 points. "We're super excited to get the win."
Hope overcame numerous obstacles to reach the 10-game mark without a blemish and remain one of three teams without a loss in MIAA play.
Albion (8-1, 1-1 MIAA) battled back from a 29-14 halftime deficit and pulled even at 43-43 following two Elena Walker free throws with 32 seconds remaining.
The Britons held Hope to its lowest scoring half ever at DeVos Fieldhouse — 16 points despite Schoonveld's game-ending heroics. The Flying Dutch shot a season-low 29.6 percent from the field (16-of-54) and 41.2 percent from the foul line (7-17).
Hope also dealt with losing starter Sydney Muller briefly late in the fourth quarter because of her blood on her jersey from a scrape on her elbow. She exited three times — once after trying to clear the blood from her white undershirt, once after returning with the sleeve on one arm cut off and for good after taking her entire undershirt off to comply with NCAA rules.
The MIAA showdown was a defensive struggle. Both teams finished with a season-low in points. Hope, NCAA Division III's top-ranked scoring defense, limited Albion to 30.2 percent field-goal shooting (16-of-53). The Britons shot 45.5 percent from the foul line (5-11). Rain Hinton led Albion with a game-high 16 points.
Schoonveld's missed 3-pointer from the wing and Hinton's defensive rebound with 16 seconds remaining gave Albion a chance to win the game. After calling a timeout and advancing the ball, the Britons dribbled a few more seconds off the clock. But on a drive to the basket, Welker lost control of the ball and traveled.
Hope called timeout. In the huddle, assistant coach Courtney Kust, who's responsible for inbounds plays, called for the same play the Flying Dutch used to beat Calvin University on a buzzer beater on February 8, 2018.
There was a wrinkle. The Flying Dutch had not run the play with the personnel set they had on the floor. Schoonveld usually isn't the primary spot.
"In the huddle, there was a little chaos. We got it calmed down, and we got it taken care of," Morehouse said. "We had three options off it. We went to Option 1 because that was the one that was open. 1.1, you got time to catch and gather and get a shot off. The defender played it perfectly. She walled up, got her hands up. Made it a real hardshot for Kenedy. Kenedy's talented enough she was able to make it.
"Kenedy set a great screen then sprinted off it. We had great weakside action of it with Voskuil and (Kasey) DeSmit. Newman made a great pass. Coach Kust drew up a great play to win the game. That's why we work on our special teams so often. We're lucky we have really good players who can execute under stress."