Calvin Women’s Basketball Advances to MIAA Tournament Finals With 78-50 Win Over Saint Mary’s
Thursday, February 23, 2012
By Mark DeHaan
Calvin faced off against Saint Mary’s for the third time this season and hosted the Belles for the second time in eight days Wednesday night. Thursday’s MIAA Tournament semifinal game had more on the line than the previous two meetings, though, as the winner would earn a berth in the MIAA Tournament Championship game to be played Saturday night. Calvin stepped up to the challenge with a 78-50 victory over the Belles. Calvin will face rival Hope Saturday night in the MIAA Tournament Championship game at 7:30 p.m. at Van Noord Arena. Doors to the arena will open at 6:30 p.m.
In their earlier match-ups, Calvin struggled to shake Saint Mary’s early on. That would not be the case in this game as the Knights jumped out to an early 13-2 advantage.
The Belles responded with a 5-0 run to cut the Calvin lead to 13-7, but a three-point shot by freshman Breanna Verkaik stifled the run and pushed Calvin’s lead to 16-7.
Both teams played the game at a fast pace, leading to a number of turnovers for both sides. While the Belles struggled to make the most of the Calvin miscues, the Knights capitalized as they outscored Saint Mary’s 15-5 in the points off turnover category in the first half.
Calvin continued to play strong defense as it closed out the half with a 40-21 lead. The Knights forced the Belles into 17 first half turnovers while holding them to just 24.1% shooting from the field. Calvin, meanwhile, shot 53.6% overall. Leading the Knights at halftime was freshman Kayla Engelhard with 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting, including 2-for-2 from three point range.
The Belles opened up the second half with a 9-4 run to cut Calvin’s lead to 44-30 before a pair of layups by junior Carissa Verkaik pushed the Knights advantage to 48-30.
Saint Mary’s cut the lead to 48-34 minutes later, but that would be as close as they would come as the Knights extended their lead to 20 with seven minutes to go and wouldn’t look back.
Coming off the bench for Calvin, sophomore Shelby Sheehan scored seven quick points for the Knights as all the players received minutes. Calvin’s largest lead came with just over a minute remaining at 78-50, and that is where things would stay as the Knights earned the victory and a berth in the MIAA Championship game.
Calvin was led on offense by the elder Verkaik who scored 25 points. Junior Ally Wolffis added 13 points while freshman Kayla Engelhard chipped in 12. Junior Julia Hilbrands was strong in 17 minutes of play as she grabbed 11 rebounds to go with seven points. Calvin shot 47.6% from the field for the game, including 33% from three-point range.
The Saint Mary’s Belles finish their season at 13-13 overall. Leading the Belles against the Knights was senior Kelley Murphy with ten points and eight rebounds. Senior Jessica Centa added ten points and seven rebounds, while the final three seniors of Patsy Mahoney, Maggie Ronan, and Katie Sullivan added six points, five points, and five points, respectively.
“We tried to prepare for (Saint Mary’s) the way we have the rest of the year,” said Head Coach John Ross. “We prepared for it as another big game against another good team.”
Calvin now hosts the MIAA Championship Saturday night against Hope, who won the other semifinal 58-55 over Albion. The Knights only have one day to prepare for the Flying Dutch, but this will be the third time these teams have faced off.
“(Hope) is tough to prepare for, they defend extremely well,” said Ross. “They present a lot of mismatch problems for us. The tough part is we have one short practice to prepare for them. The positive thing is we used the bye week to prepare for them. They’re really good, and we’re going to have to play the best game we have played all year to beat them.”
General Admission tickets for the Saturday evening game at Van Noord Arena will be sold at the Calvin Box Office on Friday, February 24, from 9:00am until 5:00pm. If available, tickets will also be sold at the door of the Arena before the game on Saturday starting at 6:30pm.
Ticket Prices: General Admission tickets are FREE for MIAA students with student ID. General Admission tickets are $3.00 for any college faculty/staff and students, High School students and children, and $5.00 for all others. There is no limit on the number of tickets to be purchased.