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Calvin Punches Ticket To Round of 16 With 76-71 Win Over UW-Stevens Point

Sunday, March 04, 2012

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Story by Mark DeHaan/Photos by Paul Evans

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH - For the fifth time in school history and for the first time since 2007, the Calvin women’s basketball team is headed to the Round of 16 of the NCAA III Tournament.

Calvin punched its ticket to the Round of 16 with a scintillating 76-71 second round NCAA III Tournament victory over Wisconsin-Stevens Point Saturday evening inside Van Noord Arena.

Ranked fifth nationally, Calvin (27-1) will face second-ranked Chicago (27-0) in a Round of 16 game next Friday at a site to be announced Sunday.  The Calvin/Chicago game will feature a rematch of an NCAA III Tournament game between the two Midwest foes from a year ago that Chicago claimed by a 67-62 score in Grand Rapids.

In its win over 11th-ranked Stevens Point, Calvin jumped out to a 7-2 lead on five points by junior Carissa Verkaik four minutes into the game. Wisconsin-Stevens Point (24-5) responded over the next seven minutes with an 11-5 run to take the 13-12 lead.

With just over six minutes left in the opening half, the Pointers took their largest lead of the game at on a three-point shot by senior Cassie Bandow at 20-16.

A 5-1 Calvin run tied the game at 21-21 with with just under five minutes remaining. Both teams continued to play tight defense, and after the final five minutes of the half, the teams found themselves deadlocked at 30-30.

Verkaik had 12 points and six rebounds at the half for Calvin. The Pointers were led on offense by Bandow and senior Brittni Buechel, both with seven points.

The second half went much like the first, with both teams struggling to build on any leads that they may have gained. Calvin jumped out to a 35-30 lead out of the break and the slight advantage until just over 11 minutes to go when the Pointers took their first lead of the second half at 46-45 on a three-pointer by junior Sam Barber.

Stevens Point then built its lead up to five points at 50-45, but a three-point shot by Carissa Verkaik ended the Pointers momentum, and Calvin tied the score at 50-50.

With 3:51 remaining, the Pointers built another lead, this at 67-63. UWSP held the lead until just over two minutes left when Calvin senior Courtney Kurncz hit an NBA-range three-point shot to give the Knights a 70-69 lead.

With the momentum now in their favor, the Knights built on their lead with a pair of defensive stops and a strong showing at the free-throw line to ice the win.

Calvin was led by Carissa Verkaik with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and six blocks as she notched her 37th career double-double including her 12th double-double of the year. Junior Julia Hilbrands added 19 points off the bench for the Knights, while Kurncz chipped in nine points, eight rebounds, and four boards.

“The first half, it was really physical – we just kind of hung in there,” said Calvin Head Coach John Ross. “We just dug deep (in the second half) and we were real determined– I’m really proud of my players.”

The Pointers were led by Barber, who scored 22 points, added 11 rebounds, and five assists. Bandow added 12 points and four assists for Stevens Point while junior Brooke Allen scored nine.

“I thought the kids battled hard. It was a great basketball game. I am extremely proud of my team, they left everything out there on the floor, and we have absolutely nothing to hang our heads about,” said Stevens Point Head Coach Shirley Egner. “(Calvin) was the better team and (they beat us) on their floor.”

Calvin is now 17-13 all-time in NCAA III Tournament play including 9-4 on its home floor.

Grand Rapids Press Story

NCAA III Regional Tournament Site

Posted in: Women's Basketball
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