by Alan Babbitt
Student assistant coach Olivia McCalla subbed for head coach Brian Morehouse and called a productive play on the first play of the game.
It was a near-perfect day for the unbeaten Flying Dutch, 104-39 winners against Kalamazoo College on Saturday in front of a DeVos Fieldhouse crowd of 1,077.
A senior-led Hope upped its record to 20-0 overall. The Flying Dutch remain in sole possession of the MIAA lead with an 11-0 league record. Trine University remains one game back.
"Amazing turnout today, amazing response," Morehouse said. "You can really feel the respect our fan base has for these three seniors by the ovation they had at halftime. Everybody there, a standing ovation. You can just see things they are accomplishing outside of basketball, then you watch how well they played on the court. It's what we aspire to be as a basketball program."
Tolbert, a guard, is headed to law school next. The senior from Lathrup Village, Michigan (Detroit Country Day HS) will graduate from Hope after majoring in both economics and business management.
Russell, a guard, is going to Physician's Assistant school next. The senior from Clarkston, Michigan (Clarkston) will graduate from Hope after majoring in biology.
McCalla accepted a job as a wealth management analyst for JP Morgan in September. She graduated in 3 ½ years after completing a double major in economics and management and a minor in accounting.
All three seniors were honored during a halftime ceremony. They have helped Hope to a 96-12 record over four seasons with five regular-season games and postseason play remaining.
The latest victory saw the Flying Dutch erupt for a season-high in points and their most since netting 109 in the 2018-19 season opener against MacMurray College (Illinois).
After an early charge from Kalamazoo (4-15, 2-8 MIAA), Hope broke open the game with a 20-6 run over the final 4 minutes, 54 seconds of the first quarter that resulted in a 25-14 lead.
The nation's No. 1 scoring defense yielded two fewer points than its season average.
All 15 players scored for the Flying Dutch. Junior forward Olivia Voskuil of Holland, Michigan (Holland Christian) netted a team-high 13 points.
Three others chipped in 11 points apiece: junior guard Kasey DeSmit of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville), junior forward Jess Moorman of Northville, Michigan (Northville) and junior guard Kenedy Schoonveld of Zeeland, Michigan (Holland Christian).
Also, prior to the game, head coach Brian Morehouse and wife, Liz, were recognized for his reaching the 600-win milestone faster than any NCAA basketball coach regardless of division or gender.
Hope's next game is Saturday, February 8 at Adrian College. Tipoff is 3 p.m.