Calvin Falls to St. Thomas 83-72 in Overtime in National Quarterfinals
Saturday, March 10, 2012
By Andrew Knot
CHICAGO, IL - The Knights’ season came to a close on Saturday with a loss to St. Thomas University in the NCAA Elite Eight.
The game was tight in the early going. At the first media timeout, Calvin led 11-10 and the Tommies’ Maggie Weiers had eight points. Turnovers would plague the Knights from there as Calvin had given away the ball nine times with 7:25 remaining in the first half.
St. Thomas maintained a slight lead throughout the half. With two minutes remaining, Carissa Verkaik knocked down a three from the left wing to cut the deficit to a single point. Verkaik’s first half performance was limited by three fouls and the Knights entered the locker room trailing by five.
Things only got worse to start the second half. Sarah Smith and Maggie Weiers each got to the basket to put the Tommies on top by eleven in the half’s first minute.
St. Thomas would cling to its lead for much of the second half, but Verkaik was determined not to let foul trouble silence her. Verkaik had 18 points in the second half and didn’t miss a shot from the field or the free throw line. Behind her efforts and a crucial three from her sister Breanna, the Knights were able to shrink the deficit to two points just six minutes into the half.
St. Thomas remained effective offensively, but the Knights were able to bring the game to its fourth tie after Courtney Kurncz’ lay-up knotted the game at 63 with three minutes to play.
Verkaik scored the Knights final six points, but St. Thomas kept pace and with five seconds left, the two squads remained square at 69. After a Calvin timeout, Kurncz stepped back well behind the three-point arc and hoisted a three-pointer at the buzzer. As time expired, Kurncz’ attempt rattled in and out of the rim to send the game to overtime.
In overtime, the Knights were unable to score until late in the period. Calvin turned the ball over on its first three possessions and the Tommies established a six point lead just two minutes into the period.
St. Thomas would continue to score from there and, as the buzzer sounded, the Knights trailed by 11. The game ended with a score of 83-72.
“I give a lot of credit to St. Thomas tonight,” said Calvin women’s basketball coach John Ross after the game. “There were some things that we did not do as well as what we wanted to but I credit St. Thomas for that.”
Verkaik ended the game with 25 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots. Verkaik finished the season with 128 blocked shots, establishing a new Calvin single-season record, surpassing the previous record of 124. Her performance on Saturday night marked her 38th collegiate double-double and her 13th double-double of the season. Heading into her senior year, she is 24 points away from becoming Calvin’s all-time leading scorer.
Kurncz was one of three Calvin seniors who played in their final collegiate game Saturday night. Kurncz had 10 points and four assists. Seniors Jill Thomas and Leah Mattson also played in their final games Saturday night.
Calvin shot 45.6 percent overall but committed 26 turnovers. St. Thomas shot 49.1 percent and was led by Taylor Young with 25 points while Maggie Weiers had 16.
Calvin committed 26 turnovers in the loss including 16 in the first half.
NOTES: Calvin is now 18-14 in NCAA III Tournament play. ....Calvin has now played in the NCAA III quarterfinals three times and lost all three times….. In Calvin’s two prior losses, Calvin’s opponent (Millikin in 2005 & DePauw in 2007) continued on to win the national championship. Calvin’s 28-2 record matches a (Calvin) single-season mark for wins in a season….Calvin’s 2007 team also went 28-2….junior Kelsey Irwin connected on three-pointer in Calvin’s game Saturday night, bringing her season total to 53. All of her field goals this year were from three-point range as she was 53-of-129 for a three-point clip of .411.