Calvin Women’s Basketball Upsets #18 Olivet 80-76 in MIAA Tournament - Travels to Hope for Finals
Thursday, February 27, 2014
By Mark DeHaan
The Calvin women’s basketball team traveled to Olivet on Thursday night for an MIAA Tournament semifinal contest. The Knights faced a win-or-go-home scenario against the Comets, an opponent that swept the regular season series from Calvin by scores of 77-73 and 82-67.
Despite twice falling to Olivet, it was the Knights that came out on top when it mattered most, as 27 points and 14 rebounds from junior Breanna Verkaik (Holland/Holland Christian HS) paced Calvin en route to a hard-fought 80-76 victory.
The game was very defensive early on as Calvin led just 3-2 five minutes in. The teams began the game a combined 2-of-19 from the field.
The Knights then caught fire, hitting seven of the next twelve shots to take a 17-8 lead with 8:34 left in the first.
Olivet responded with a 12-2 run in the next two and a half minutes to earn a 20-19 advantage. Neither team was able to pull ahead by more than three the remainder of the half. The Comets took a 31-28 lead into the break.
Verkaik had 12 points and eight rebounds at the half for Calvin while Olivet’s Stefanie Lang, the MIAA’s leading scorer, had 13 and Kelsey Campbell had 10.
Out of the half, the game remained close throughout the second half. Both teams fought tooth-and-nail to gain an advantage, but with every small lead came a response by the opposing team.
Lang scored the first ten points out of the break for Olivet, but the Comets could not pull away.
Keeping the Knights in the game was Verkaik. Olivet took its largest lead of the game with 13:38 remaining at 76-72, but an “and-1” by Verkaik cut the Comets lead to one.
With 2:11 remaining, junior Kayla Engelhard (Unionville/Saginaw Valley Lutheran HS) hit a big three for Calvin to give the Knights a 72-70 lead. A turnover by Olivet and a foul then gave Engelhard a chance at two free throws, which she both hit, and Calvin’s lead was two possessions at 74-70.
The Comets then hit a shot, fouling the Knights to try to reel Calvin in. But, every time Olivet made a shot, the Knights hit their ensuing free throws, and Calvin came out on top with an 80-76 victory.
The Knights forced Olivet into 25 turnovers on the night, outscoring the Comets 24-11 off turnovers.
Verkaik led Calvin with 27 points and 14 rebounds, setting a career high in rebounds, while shooting 10-of-15 from the field and 7-of-9 from the line. Engelhard added 16 points while junior Hannah Acre (DeWitt/DeWitt HS) and freshman Anna Timmer (Caledonia/South Christian HS) each scored 10.
The Knights were able to overcome 32 points and 13 points from Lang, who fouled out with 56 seconds remaining. Kelsey Campbell had 18 points and eight assists for the Comets while Chelsea Ciba added 16 points.
“We came out and played with a lot more defensive intensity than we had in our other match-ups with Olivet. The atmosphere was like an NCAA Tournament game, and we just came out and played very well,” said head coach John Ross. “Saturday, Hope is going to be tough to beat. We need to come out with fresh legs and play a very good game on both ends of the floor.”
The Knights improve to 19-7 overall, while Olivet’s season likely ends at 22-4.
The win sends Calvin into the MIAA Tournament final on Saturday which will be hosted by Hope. Saturday’s final will be played at 7:30 p.m. at the DeVos Fieldhouse, following the 3 p.m. men’s tournament final, also between Calvin and Hope.