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Knights Ride Veltema’s Hot Shooting To Victory Over Kalamazoo

Thursday, January 29, 2009

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Box Score

By Chaz Amidon

GRAND RAPIDS – Matt Veltema has been even more productive in Calvin’s starting lineup than he has off the bench, but he claims that nothing has changed since last week.

Nothing, except for a few more open shots.

After pouring in a career-best 21 points in a win over Albion on Saturday, Veltema set a new personal record by totaling 23 points in the Knights’ 74-60 win over Kalamazoo on Wednesday, jump-starting a fresh win streak for a Calvin team that dropped its previous contest at Van Noord Arena.

“I’m just trying to knock down the open shots that I get,” said Veltema. “I’m trying to do the best that I can and we’re getting some wins, which is all that matters.”

During the Knights’ current two-game stretch, Veltema has shot 15-of-25 (60 percent) from the floor, including 6-of-10 (60 percent) from 3-point range.

A leg injury to Caleb Veldhouse against Olivet last Wednesday led coach Kevin Vande Streek to insert Veltema into his starting five, where the junior sharpshooter has averaged 22 points-per-game and upped his season average to 12.6 – the third-best mark on the team.

“You take Caleb out of the lineup…you take 15 shots out of the lineup, and that’s going to get spread around to some different guys,” said Vande Streek. “Matt certainly has done a nice job here these last couple games.”

Dustin Smith scored 10 points and hauled in 12 boards, while Trent Salo notched a Calvin career-high 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting as the Knights built a 30-point lead in the second half against the last-place Hornets (1-6, 5-12).

Kalamazoo shot just 20 percent from the field in the first half, gathering only 15 points against a Calvin team that is allowing 68.1 points-per-game to opponents. Only Albion has a better scoring defense (67.4 per-game).

“Kalamazoo struggled to make some shots, but I thought we played really well defensively,” said Vande Streek. “I think we have a number (of games) – seven, eight games in a row.”

Calvin used a pair of 9-0 runs in the second half to establish a 47-21 lead with 13:20 remaining.

Veltema engineered an 8-0 run himself minutes later, drilling a fadeaway 17-footer in between a pair of deep 3-pointers. He exited the game with 5:45 left and after accumulating 27 minutes of playing time throughout the night.

“It’s just one of those grooves I guess, but I think we’re just finding the open guy,” said Veltema. “We’ve been trying to get that inside-out game going, so it starts in the post.”

John Mantel was one of five Knights to reel in five or more rebounds. He and Tyler Zoerfhof each had six, while Danny Rodts and Tim Katt grabbed five apiece.

Calvin outrebounded the Hornets 48-35, and has now owned the battle of the boards in each of its 11 wins this season.

“I think (rebounding) is something we always emphasize,” said Vande Streek. “One of our team goals is to lead the league in rebound margin. We moved Mike Zwier into the (starting) lineup and since then it’s just been contagious. They have a real sense of pride with rebounding now. It’s put us in good shape.”

The Knights will now travel to Angola, Ind. on Saturday to take on Trine (1-6, 5-13). Calvin defeated the Thunder 77-69 at the opener of the Van Noord Arena back on Jan. 7.

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