Calvin Women’s Basketball Team Falls to Hope in MIAA Tournament Final 68-49
Saturday, February 27, 2010
(written by sports information student assistant Derek Neice)
The Hope College women’s basketball team has won 68 straight games in the DeVos Fieldhouse in Holland as they defeated the Knights Saturday afternoon in the MIAA tournament finals 68-49.
Calvin managed to take a four point lead late in the first half at 21-17 with the best basketball they would play all game, but the Dutchmen turned it up a notch and rattled off fifteen straight points to end the half, taking a 32-21 lead into the break.
“We’re a simple team and our plan was to take care of the ball and take good shots, and we only got to the foul line one time in the first half, and that’s very uncommon for us,” said Calvin coach John Ross after the game. “And we gave up a lot of offensive rebounds, and there was just a stretch there where we stopped playing well.”
“The momentum just switched,” said Calvin freshman Carissa Verkaik, the winner of this season’s MIAA scoring title. “They were really aggressive, and also whenever they get a steal, our confidence goes down, and that’s what hurts us.”
Verkaik led the Knights with 12 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals, and senior Brooke VanEck finished with 10 points and 4 boards. Senior Amber Benthem hit a couple of big first half three’s and finished with 8 points, and senior Emily Ottenhoff chipped in 5 as well.
For Hope, junior Carrie Snikkers poured in 12 points, junior Rachel Kuttney added 9, senior Philana Greene scored 7 points with 4 assists and 5 steals, and freshmen Liz Ellis and Meredith Kussmaul both finished with 7 apiece.
The first half was where the Knights played their best ball of the game, although they did start out in a bit of a rut, falling behind early 8-2. Calvin battled back and took their first lead of the game at 16-15 with just over eight minutes to play in the half. They built on that lead in the next few minutes of the game, going up by as much as four at 21-17, but that’s when Hope took complete control.
The Dutchmen dominated on the boards, both offensively and defensively, and they poured in 15 straight points before halftime, including a big three-pointer by Kussmaul in the closing seconds. At 32-21, Calvin needed a big spark in the second period to have a chance to come back and win the game.
“When the momentum changed we started playing how they [Hope] wanted us to play, and they play a fast game,” said Verkaik. “Our game needs to be more settled down, we need to move the ball and get our good shot, so when we started playing their game we weren’t playing relaxed.”
That spark would never come. Hope outscored Calvin 36-28 in the second half, a half where Calvin really never made their presence known since they trailed by so much going into the break. Playing in such a tough environment is hard enough on a team when they lead a game, coming into the second half trailing 11 is a near impossible obstacle to overcome. Hope gets the automatic bid to the national tournament with the win, but Calvin is still hoping for an at-large (Pool C) bid to the big dance.