Men’s basketball breezes through first round of NCAA tourney

Photo by Miles Kuperus
Photo by Miles Kuperus

The Calvin Knights (25-3) and Rose-Hulman Fightin’ Engineers (24-4) played their first round game of the NCAA tournament on Friday, March 1.

In the only matchup between top 20 ranked teams, No. 12 Calvin played a tough road game against the toughest scoring defense in the country in No. 19 Rose-Hulman.

While the Engineers’ defense gave the Knights some problems early on, Calvin hit their stride in the second half to take a dominating first round win on the road, 72–52.

The first half was toughly contested as Rose-Hulman forced Calvin to slow it down and commanded the tempo of the game. The Engineers defense hindered the Knights’ shooting, holding them to 41 and 27 percent from three while also creating five steals. Their defense kept them in the game despite their 33 percent field goal shooting.

Rose-Hulman guard Julian Strickland led all scorers at the half with 11 points, most of it coming on his three three-pointers, two of which he made in the first four minutes. This propelled the Engineers to an 11-7 lead, which was their largest of the game.

Calvin then went on a 16-4 run to go up 23-15 with over four minutes left in the half. However, the Engineers would not go away easily and fought back with an 8-0 run to tie the game before Calvin center junior Tyler Kruis hit a baseline jumper to put the Knights up by two going into the half.

The second half was much more in Calvin’s style as the Knights were able to speed up the pace of the game and break down the Engineers’ defense. Kruis scored to open up the second half and Calvin never looked back. While the Engineers were able to keep it close for a little while, they could not withstand the Knights’ hot shooting.

Shooting a remarkable 81.8 percent in the second half, they converted on 18-22 field goals to score 47 points. Calvin’s consistently brilliant shooting simply wore down the Engineers as they accumulated a 20-point lead.

The Knights used their height advantage to attack the basket with greater conviction in the second half, scoring 18 points in the paint and dominating the Engineers on the rebounding as well 33-22.

Calvin also relied on their depth as their bench played a significant role, scoring 37 points. Meanwhile the Engineers got only 11 points from their entire bench.

“We have about seven guys who can play a majority of the minutes, but our depth has been great all year long,” Calvin head coach Kevin Vande Streek said.  “We did a great job of getting easy baskets in transition.”

Calvin forward senior Tom Snikkers had a great all-around game, leading all scorers with 20 points, grabbing a game high of five boards, and leading the Knights with four assists. Calvin guard senior Bryan Powell also contributed 16 points off the bench. Meanwhile, Strickland led the Engineers with 17.

Calvin’s 72 points was the most given up by Rose-Hulman this entire season. The Knights will now move on to face Wisconsin-Stevens Point next Saturday for the second round game.

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