Men’s basketball wins two at Grand Rapids Hall of Fame Classic
The Calvin men’s basketball team faced NAIA foes Cornerstone University and Aquinas College over Thanksgiving break in the Grand Rapids Hall of Fame Classic hosted by Hope College. The Knights defeated Aquinas 58-55 on Friday and Cornerstone 70-65 on Saturday.
The Saints from Aquinas started off hot and took an 8-2 lead in the first five minutes. Calvin countered with a 9-2 run of its own, capped of by a jumper from senior forward Tom Snikkers to give Calvin its first lead, 11-10.
Two field goals each from junior center Tyler Kruis and sophomore guard Jordan Brink helped give Calvin a 27-21 lead at halftime.
Kruis and Brink led Calvin at the half with eight and six points respectively. Freshman Zach Van Beek led Aquinas with five points.
Similar to the first half, the Saints started the second half on a 14-8 run to tie the game at 35-35. Calvin responded with an 8-0 run of its own.
A clutch Tyler Dykstra three-pointer extended the Calvin lead to 58-50 with 1:43 remaining, but Aquinas battled back and cut the deficit to three with 0:44 left in the game. The Saints secured a rebound with six seconds remaining and called a timeout. Calvin then fouled and put Aquinas freshman Brandon Walker at the line with 1.5 seconds left. Walker missed the first free throw attempt but teammate and fellow freshmen Joe Ferrici grabbed the rebound. Ferrici then missed a desperation field goal attempt as time ran out.
Calvin head coach Kevin Vande Streek said his Knights fought just enough to pull out a win.
“This game was a grind,” Calvin head coach Kevin Vande Streek said Friday night after the victory. “The style Aquinas plays forces teams into bad shots. We were lucky to come out on top.”
Calvin was led by Kruis, Brink and Snikkers who scored 13, 11 and 10 points respectively.
In the matchup against the Cornerstone Golden Eagles, Calvin started the first half on fire from the field. The Knights hit six of their first seven shots, two coming from Snikkers. This propelled Calvin to a 13-7 just three minutes into the contest.
After the hot start, both teams went cold from the floor. A jumper from Cornerstone sophomore Justin Pepper broke the drought. The Golden Eagles took their first lead at the 10:34 mark on a layup from sophomore Ty Mason.
Calvin countered with field goals from senior guard Bryan Powell and senior Matt De Boer , giving the Knights a 22-20 lead. Consecutive three pointers from sophomore Tyler Dykstra and Powell spurred an 11-3 run for Calvin, giving the Knights a double-digit lead, 33-23.
Calvin took a 39-33 lead into halftime. Powell sparked the Knights coming off the bench with 13 points hitting five of seven first half field goals. Senior David Rietema had eight points and four assists in 20 minutes of play.
Vande Streek told his team they needed a better effort in the second half.
“I thought we started out with enough intensity and toughness,” said Calvin head coach Kevin Vande Streek after the match. “We did not carry that throughout the first half.”
Cornerstone cut Calvin’s lead to two points at the 11:04 mark of the second half with a 25-foot three pointer from junior Wes Hudson. Two consecutive buckets from Snikkers pushed the Knight’s lead back to seven. Another Hudson layup with 17 seconds left in regulation cut Calvin’s lead to one, 66-65, but two free throws from Brink followed by a steal from Rietema sealed Calvin’s victory.
With its win over Cornerstone, Calvin won the Grand Rapids Hall of Fame Classic for the fifth time since joining the tournament back in 1998.
Brink, who was named tournament MVP, led the Knights with 14 points including a perfect eight for eight from the free throw line.
“I think I can speak for our whole team in saying we wanted this game,” Brink said after the match. “This was our most complete game as a team so far this season.”
Snikkers, who joined Brink on the all-tournament team, chipped in 13 points. Powell had 13 points including three of four beyond the three-point arc.
Vande Streek, who last coached Calvin to victory in the Grand Rapids Hall of Fame Classic in 2010, said his team took the classic very seriously.
“Even though this tournament is a classic, we treated this as the ‘championship’ game,” said Vande Streek. “Cornerstone is a good team, and good teams will punish you for your mistakes. They made their run, but we kept our intensity up even though the game was close.”
Mason and Hudson led the Golden Eagles with 20 and 16 points respectively in defeat.
Former Calvin basketball standout and current men’s athletic director Dr. Jim Timmer Jr. said this current Calvin team has a chance to be special.
“This win is an exciting start to the season,” Timmer said. “The student-athletes are getting along well and sharing the ball. If they keep working hard, it could be a really exciting winter.”
Calvin defeated Manchester University 87-63 on Tuesday night. Powell led the Knights with 13 points. Sophomore Dan Stout had a career-high nine points off the bench.
Calvin is now 6-0 for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. The Knights will travel to Wheaton, Ill. this weekend for the annual CCIW-MIAA Classic. Calvin will play host Wheaton on Friday at 9 p.m. and Carthage at 2 p.m. on Saturday.