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Men’s Basketball Clinches Share of MIAA Regular Season Title & Top Seed for MIAA Tournament

Thursday, February 18, 2010

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Box Score

ALBION—The Calvin men’s basketball team clinched a share of its second consecutive MIAA title and the top seed for next week’s MIAA Tournament with a 78-66 victory at Albion Wednesday night. Combined with Adrian’s 73-68 victory over Hope, Calvin moves into sole possession of first place in the MIAA standings with one game left to play in the MIAA regular season. Calvin (16-8 overall, 11-2 MIAA) can clinch the outright title on Saturday with either a win over Alma on Saturday at Calvin or a Trine victory at Hope (10-3 MIAA).

Calvin now holds the tie-breaker edge over Hope for the top seed for next week’s MIAA Tournament as Adrian has clinched third place in the final MIAA standings. Calvin finished 2-0 against Adrian while Hope went 1-1 against the Bulldogs, giving the Knights the tie-breaker edge. Calvin and Hope split their regular season meetings this year. The next tie-breaker for MIAA seeding purposes is the head-to-head record against the next highest team in the league standings.

Calvin’s MIAA title is its second straight including its seventh under head coach Kevin Vande Streek who is in his 14th year at the helm of the Calvin men’s basketball program. The regular season title is also the 29th in Calvin men’s basketball history.

In its win over Albion on Wednesday, Calvin roared out to a 42-25 halftime lead. The first half surge was ignited by junior point guard Trent Salo who scored 11 points in the opening six minutes of the game including three baskets from beyond the three-point arc. A layup just before the first half buzzer by senior John Mantel gave the Knights a 17-point halftime advantage.

Calvin shot 56.7 percent from the field in the first half including 6 of 12 from three-point range.

“I thought we came out really ready to play,” said Calvin men’s basketball coach Kevin Vande Streek after the game. “I thought our guys did the dictating in the first half and whenever you could do that, you give yourself a chance to win.”

Albion (13-11 overall, 7-6 MIAA) scored the first 11 points of the second half to cut the deficit down to six points at 42-36. A free throw by senior Matt Veltema and a three-pointer by freshman Bryan Powell put the Knights back up by 10 at 46-36. The Calvin lead later balooned to 57-39 on a triple by junior Brent Schuster and a pair of free throws by senior John Mantel but the Britons refused to fold, ripping off a 24-9 scoring run over the next six minutes to creep to within just three at 66-63 with 2:11 left to play.

After a timeout, the Knights were able to work the ball to Veltema who responded with a clutch triple from the top of the key. Moments later, junior Danny Rodts swished a three-ball from the right corner and the Knights had a 72-63 advantage and control of the game. The Knights then finished the game out with a dunk by Mantel and free throws from Veltema and senior Paul Campbell.

Veltema finished the contest with 17 points including four three-pointers, lifting his career three-point field goal total to 186, moving him past Todd Hennink for fourth place on the Calvin career three-point list and within two of Chris Knoester for third place. Ranked second nationally in free throw percentage, was 3-of-4 at the free throw line with his miss in the second half breaking a streak of 32 consecutive free throws made.

Mantel was next with 16 points and nine rebounds while Salo had 11 points. Schuster had 12 points off the bench to lead a superb Calvin bench effort as the Knights received 28 points from their reserves. Campbell was also superb off the bench with nine points, seven rebounds, four assists and one steal. Powell also had seven points.

“I thought our bench was terrific and I thought Paul Campbell in particular was really good. I mean really good,” said Vande Streek. “We don’t win tonight’s game without Paul Campbell.”

Albion was led by J.C. Cruse who had a game-high 24 points while Chris Hutton had 16 points. In their first meeting against Calvin back in January, Albion connected on 12 three-point baskets. On Wednesday, the Britons were 8 of 21 (.385) from three-point range led by Hutton with five triples.

Calvin held a 37-24 rebounding advantage and shot 17 of 24 from the free throw line.

As for the MIAA title, Vande Streek was obviously pleased. “I’m just very happy for our guys but they’re not satisfied yet,” he said. “This group wants to win it outright on Saturday and to do that, they’ll have to take on an Alma team that I know will give us a strong test. They played us tough at their place and we will not take them lightly.”

Saturday’s game against Alma is slated to start at 3 p.m. at Calvin’s Van Noord Arena. It will mark the final regular season home game for Calvin seniors Paul Campbell, Matt Veltema and John Mantel.

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