Women's Basketball Honors Loved Ones, Earns Purple Community Victory vs. Alma

Sydney Muller jumps in the air while attempting a layup by Alan Babbitt

Sydney Muller surprised her father, a prostate cancer survivor, with his name on the back of her special Purple Community Hope College basketball jersey.

Olivia Voskuil did the same on her jersey for her grandmother, a breast cancer survivor.

On another successful night for the unbeaten and third-ranked Flying Dutch, honoring dear family and friends impacted by cancer and other diseases, and supporting Van Andel Institute's search for cures, mattered the most.

The final score against Alma College — a coast-to-coast 71-33 victory on Wednesday at DeVos Fieldhouse and the 599th win of Brian Morehouse's coaching career — was secondary.

"My grandma had breast cancer when I was in high school. She fought it and survived," Voskuil said. "I just talked to her. She said, 'I didn't even know it was the Purple game. Thanks so much.' It was really humbling."

Added Muller, "My father had prostate cancer this July. He's just coming back, making leaps and bounds. He didn't know I was going to do him, either. My dad's not very emotional. To see him get a little worked up meant the world to me."

Each Flying Dutch player honored someone on their back of their Purple Community jerseys on Wednesday.

Purple Community is Van Andel Institute's grassroots fundraising and awareness program. Established by Jay and Betty Van Andel in 1996, Van Andel Institute is committed to improving the health and changing the lives of current and future generations, through biomedical research and science education.

Since the Purple Community program began in 2009, Purple Community events have raised more than $4.9 million for Van Andel Institute.

Proceeds from Hope's Purple Community Games, including the home men's basketball game on Saturday, January 25 at 3 p.m, annually also help fund an internship for a Hope student at Van Andel Institute.

Against Alma, Hope rolled after jumping to a 25-3, first-quarter lead. The Flying Dutch (17-0, 8-0 MIAA) allowed only nine first-half points — just more than their DeVos Fieldhouse record.

Muller and Voskuil led a balanced scoring effort with 10 points apiece against the Scots (6-9, 2-6 MIAA).

Hope, which topped NCAA Division III in scoring defense heading into the game at 42.6 points per game, lowered its average to 42.0.

The Flying Dutch improved their coach's record to 599-90 — totaling 24 seasons at his alma mater. Hope goes for a milestone victory on Saturday, January 25 at Olivet College. Tipoff is 3 p.m.

More than Wednesday's outcome, Morehouse relished the opportunity to see his team and the Hope community join together to support Van Andel Institute. His daughter, Meg, a freshman guard for the Flying Dutch, wore his grandmother's name on her Purple Community jersey.

"My grandma died of cancer really before we could start to remember her as a family. We were super young. It's something we've kept in the forefront of our family," Morehouse said. "Cancer sort of permeates throughout so many people. Parkinson's, too. Who isn't touched by this?

"I love the idea of the purple because it crosses over into so many of the really awful diseases that people have. I love it's for research because we're after a cure for all these. We're blessed in West Michigan to have such a great program like the Van Andel Institute doing research on all of these different diseases."