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Men’s Basketball Advances to MIAA Tournament Championship Game With 63-57 Win Over Olivet

Saturday, February 27, 2010

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Box Score

(written by Calvin Sports Information Student Assistant Derek Neice)

Calvin’s season is still alive.

Coming back from a deficit as large as 14 in Friday night’s MIAA Tournament semifinal game against Olivet, the Knights took their first lead of the game with 3:21 left in the second half and hung on to that lead to win 63-57 and move on to the championship round against Hope. Hope defeated Adrian 75-66 in Friday’s first semifinal game.

Senior Matt Veltema led all scorers with 15 clutch points, and his baseline fall-away jumper late in the second half to give Calvin the lead proved to be the difference, because that lead was not relinquished once possessed.

“Before the game we talked about being the hardest working team,” said Veltema after the game, “and I think it just came down to us battling for forty minutes.”

“There were times when they went on some runs and we easily could’ve just tapered off,” said Veltema, “but we kept at it and the hard work paid off in the end.”
Calvin coach Kevin Vande Streek expressed similar sentiments in the postgame press conference.

“We had great will and enthusiasm defensively and offensively, the bench was cheering like crazy and we weren’t ready to give in to the possibility of being done,” said Vande Streek.

Additionally for the Knights, Senior John Mantel scored 13 points and took down 4 rebounds in a highly physical game.  Junior Danny Rodts also added 9 points and 6 boards for the Knights and junior Trent Salo poured in 8 points and 3 assist, including an enormous three-pointer to increase Calvin’s lead to 59-55 after the Knights had gone up one on their last offensive possession.

For the Comets, junior Michael McClary was just off his double-double average with 14 points and 9 rebounds on 5 of 13 shooting.  Senior Andy Clark did put up enough stats for a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards, and junior Joel Kerns poured in 8 points coming off the bench.

“I thought we were about as aggressive defensively as we’ve ever been,” said Vande Streek.  “And I thought we did a really nice job on Michael [McClary], we got up and doubled him hard and I’m guessing it’s been a while since he’s been five of thirteen from the field.”

“Tonight the sense of having the season over was very real, we stared at it right in the face,” Vande Streek continued.  “And the guys knew it, and they wouldn’t give up, wouldn’t give in to it.”

The first half started out rough for the Knights, with the Comets taking an early lead and both teams used a number of scoring runs to fuel their offensive scoring.  Calvin trailed the entire way through though because of poor shooting, something uncharacteristic of this normally clutch-shooting team.

Calvin shot 29.4 percent from the floor in the first half including hitting on only 2 of 14 shots from beyond the three-point line.  Olivet on the other hand shot 53.8 percent in the first half, getting up by as much as 12 at one point, but Calvin took advantage of a 9-0 run and managed to close that gap to five at the break.

“The good thing about playing in this conference is that we see everything across the board,” commented Veltema on Friday night’s phsyicality.  “Yeah it was physical out there but it was nothing we haven’t seen before.

With the crowd hoping for new life from the Knights in the second half, Olivet immediately silenced the fans as they opened the half on a 9-0 run and did not allow Calvin to score for the first four minutes of the half.

At 41-27, the Comets were in prime position to try and coast to victory.  But Calvin used another big scoring run to make up that ground.  Starting with a baseline jumper from Schuster to make it 41-29, the Knights scored nine more straight [11-0 run total] to climb to within one at 41-40.

But Olivet wasn’t ready to give up the lead just yet.  They nursed their advantage back up to a 7-point difference with nine and a half minutes left, and the crowd was all but silenced yet again.  But the clutch shooting of the Knights at the free throw line brought the Knights right back.

Trailing seven, the Knights outscored the Comets 9-6 on nine made free throws, and after a clutch three pointer from Rodts to pull the Knights within one again, Veltema gave Calvin the lead for good with his jumper.

“It’s something we’ve been really good at all year for the most part,” said Vande Streek of the free throw shooting success of his Knights.  “We got to the line and we had good shooters, clutch shooters, and it was really good.”

The win puts Calvin into the championship round against Hope for the fifth consecutive year.  It also gives the Knights a chance to even the season series against Hope with the Dutchmen holding this year’s advantage 2-1 currently. Saturday’s game will also be the 176th edition of the already great rivalry in a series Hope leads 89-86.

“I think the great thing about the rivalry is that it’s such a spirited rivalry with great respect for one another,” said Vande Streek of the rivalry with Hope.  “Yeah I certainly want to beat them every time we play them, but it’s not a dislike kind of thing, and that’s what makes it fun.”

“I’ve got plenty left,” Veltema said when asked if he had anything left for Saturday night’s game against Hope.  “There’s no tomorrow right now, and hopefully we can come away with a victory.”

POST-GAME NOTES: With his 15 points, Veltema became the 20th player in Calvin men’s basketball history to reach the 1,000 point plateau. Veltema entered Friday’s game with 999 points and now had 1,014…Veltema moved past Dan Aultman (1,005 points) into 19th place and is just one point behind Bill Wolterstorff (1,015 points) for 18th place….This is the 19th year for the MIAA men’s basketball tournament….Calvin is 37-10 all-time in the MIAA Tournament and is tied with Hope for ,most MIAA Tournament titles (8)…..other MIAA Tournament champion include Albion (1998) and Defiance (1999)…Calvin is 14-0 in MIAA Tournament first round games…15-4 in semifinal games and 8-6 in MIAA Tournament championship games…Calvin is now 10-0 in MIAA Tournament play against Olivet…Calvin is 3-7 all-time against Hope in MIAA Tournament play including 1-6 in the MIAA Tournament finals.

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