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Layup in Closing Seconds Gives Calvin Dramatic Win Over Hope

Thursday, February 12, 2009

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Box Score

By Chaz Amidon

GRAND RAPIDS – Three seasons ago, with a Hope defender glued to his hip, Caleb Veldhouse dialed in a buzzer-beating three to give the Knights a historic win over their archrivals at the old Calvin Fieldhouse.

He was then a freshman, playing in only his second Calvin-Hope game, attempting a shot that, at the time, was risky. Maybe even impossible for a freshman. 

This year, in Calvin’s new home, he made a last-second play against the Dutchmen look easy.

Driving the lane and drawing a double-team, Veldhouse found Matt Veltema for a wide-open lay-in with 2.7 seconds remaining to lift Calvin to an electrifying 63-62 win over Hope on Wednesday.

It was the first match-up between the two schools in the newly built Van Noord Arena, where the Knights completed their first regular season sweep of Hope since 2001-02.

“Caleb’s just done it over and over in his career,” said Calvin coach Kevin Vande Streek. “Sometimes it’s to take a three-point lead to a five-point lead with a minute left. It’s not always the game-winner, but he’s awfully clutch.”

Veldhouse, Calvin’s seventh all-time leading scorer, paced the Knights with 19 points and connected on all three of his attempts from beyond the arc – including a deep long ball with 51 seconds left to narrow Hope’s four-point lead to one.

On Feb. 8, 2006, he drilled a 3-pointer over Hope’s Greg Immink – as time expired – to provide for one of the more scintillating finishes between the two teams, who are now separated by only one game in the all-time series that began in 1920-21.

Wednesday, facing a deficit in the dwindling seconds once again, Veldhouse had room for one more unforgettable ending.

“It’s exactly what I came to Calvin for,” said Veldhouse. “That’s what you come here for, that’s what you play here for. You compete with the best.

Trailing the Dutchmen 62-61 with 15 seconds remaining, Veldhouse repaired a broken play by driving middle to find an open shot. Instead, Hope’s interior collapsed, and Veltema slipped down to the right block for an uncontested lay-up.

“We just give him the ball and get out of the way,” said Vande Streek. “Caleb said right before we went out, ‘If they come trap me or something, someone’s got to step up and win the game.’ It’s hard to defend it, especially when you’ve got a great player you can just give the ball to.”

Calvin’s Dustin Smith immediately committed a foul on the ensuing inbound pass, which positioned the Dutchmen near mid-court to run their final play with 1.3 seconds left. Hope’s Peter Bunn hoisted a fall-away 3 that nearly banked in as the final horn sounded.

Then, a record crowd of 4,632 stormed the floor in the Van Noord Arena for the first time.

“We’ve just said it so many times, it comes down to the last shot,” said Vande Streek. “How many close games in the history of this? It’s not always a game-winner, but it’s always tight and we know each other well, and baskets are hard to come by. I’m just happy we had one more.”

John Mantel was one of two Knights to record a double-double, compiling 17 points and 10 rebounds. The double-double was his seventh of the year. Smith chipped in with 12 points and 10 boards for his second double-double of the season.

Calvin took only its second lead of the game with 12:24 left in regulation. The Knights trailed Hope 27-13 with five minutes remaining in the first half, a juncture where Calvin was 4-of-26 (15 percent) from the field. Veldhouse was 0-for-6 with no points.

He fired in a pair of 3-pointers shortly before the break and scored 12 of his team-high 19 points after halftime.

“You can’t say enough,” said Veltema of Veldhouse. “You don’t see a lot that goes on in practice, just the leadership skills that he’s got. He’s got to step up and make those plays all the time.”

Bunn paced the Dutchmen with a game-high 21 points, and Jesse Reimink, the MIAA’s leading scorer (22.0 points-per-game), was limited to one second-half field goal en route to totaling 17 points.

Calvin now trails Hope in the all-time series 86-85, though Veldhouse and his fellow seniors are 5-9 against the Dutchmen since the 2005-06 season. The Knights are 14-15 against Hope since 2000.

“Our whole offseason, our motto was ‘Prove it,’” said Veldhouse. “’What are you going to do over the offseason and through next season that’s going to prove what kind of player you are? What kind of team you’re going to be?’

“I think that tonight, and down in Holland, we proved it. We made a big step tonight.”

The Knights, who shot an average of 39 percent at home coming in, finished just 33 percent from the floor. They shot 26 percent in the first half, where Hope committed only one turnover.

NOTES:  In 2005, ESPN ranked the Calvin-Hope series as the fourth-greatest college basketball rivalry behind Duke-North Carolina, Connecticut-Tennessee (women) and Louisville-Kentucky, respectively…Vande Streek is now 15-21 all-time against Hope…Over the last 25 years, the visiting team that won Round One of the rivalry has gone on to sweep the regular season series 12 out of a possible 13 times…In 171 games, Hope has outscored Calvin by a combined 88 points, a difference of just 0.515 points-per-game.

Photo Gallery Courtesy of Dave DeKorne

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