Men’s basketball beats Hope for MIAA title, advances to NCAA tournament
The Calvin Knights men’s basketball team ruled the court at Van Noord Arena to defeat Hope College 77-57 and take home the MIAA championship Saturday night.
Hope’s 16 turnovers and poor shooting in the second half allowed Calvin to take over and claim an automatic spot in the NCAA D-III tournament championship. The Knights will learn who their first round opponent will be Monday at 12:30 p.m.
Meeting for the third time this season with one win a piece, the teams put on a show for the over 4,000 in attendance in a closely-contested first half.
“I don’t think it’s humanly possible for either team to play harder than what they were doing,” said Calvin head coach Kevin Vande Streek.
Calvin controlled the glass and balanced their intensity with smart plays to put together a smothering performance. Vande Streek was sure to commend his team’s rebounding, saying that it was the key to the victory.
“If you can rebound and take care of the ball, you can win a lot of games,” he said. “We had eight offensive rebounds in the first half and that really put us in great position.”
Every possession was a battle in the first half and neither team gave up much on the defensive end of the court; however, in the first three minutes of the second half, Calvin seniors Tom Snikkers and Bryan Powell demonstrated their leadership by taking control of the game.
With Powell hitting a number of deep three-pointers and Snikkers driving the basket to get some hard-fought points, Calvin steadily began to pull away.
Powell said that they came out in the second half on a mission to command the court.
“I think that it’s crucial to dictate the game, and I feel like we did that,” he said.
Snikkers, who was disappointed with his performance at Hope in their previous meeting, surely made up for it with 17 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals and efficient play on both ends of the court.
“He wants to win so badly that sometimes it gets him into trouble,” said Vande Streek about Snikkers’ play at Hope two weeks ago. “Tonight he had a great balance of when to attack, and yet being smart and talking care of the ball.”
“Today everyone one of us, from the starters, to the role players… everybody brought it emotionally,” said Snikkers.
Junior Tyler Kruis definitely brought the emotion, contributing 11 points and 11 rebounds to the Knight’s victory.
Hope head coach Matt Neil said that his team’s effort was there, just not the execution. Hope shot 6-25 in the second half and 1-14 from three-point range for the game.
“You gotta make shots to win the basketball game,” said Neil adding, “[Calvin] did a nice job of taking care of the basketball.”
Hope senior Nate Snuggerud played a fantastic game for the Dutchmen tallying 17 points and 7 rebounds while playing 31 minutes, but admitted that his team couldn’t handle Calvin’s runs.
“We just couldn’t get things going the way we wanted to,” said Snuggerud.