Men’s Basketball Rolls To Win Over Trine in First Round MIAA Tournament Game
Thursday, February 26, 2009
By Chaz Amidon
GRAND RAPIDS – Danny Rodts and Matt Veltema anchored a white-hot Calvin perimeter, and the Knights cruised to an 89-54 victory over the visiting Thunder in the first round of the MIAA Tournament Wednesday night inside the Van Noord Arena.
Rodts registered a career-high 21 points and Veltema added 20 as the two sharpshooters combined to hit their first eight attempts from 3-point range midway through the first half, where Calvin compiled a season-best 52 points.
“We’ve had halves or game or stretches where this guy shot well or that guy shot well, and we haven’t had a game where we’ve all just clicked,” said Calvin coach Kevin Vande Streek. “I’ve kind of been waiting for that but, you know, if we get on a run like that we can be really good. It was great tonight to see the ball going in.”
The Knights finished 15-of-28 (54 percent) from beyond the arc and went 9-of-10 in the opening 10 minutes. Calvin was shooting a mere 32 percent from downtown at the Van Noord Arena heading into Wednesday, just four days after suffering a 68-66 loss to Kalamazoo in the regular season finale.
“I think we can consider this home now that we shot the way we did,” said Veltema. “(There’s) nothing better than having home court throughout the rest of the tournament.”
Rodts connected on back-to-back 3s to give Calvin a 16-6 lead early on, then Veltema orchestrated an 8-0 run himself to widen the gap over last-place Trine.
The Knights extended the lead to 35-14 after a Rodts’ long ball from the left corner, which prompted Trine’s third timeout with 12:00 remaining in the half.
“Danny’s been shooting the lights out,” said Veltema. “He’s been a monster on the boards, too. It’s not just him, either, or me, for that matter. It’s everybody. I guess we set the tone a little bit.”
Veltema turned in his third 20-point performance of the season. He scored a career-high 21 points in a win over Albion on Jan. 24 and re-established his personal best by dismantling Kalamazoo for 23 points four days later.
“Matt Veltema – game in, game out, from start to finish, start or not start, ankle injury, not ankle injury – has probably been our most consistent player,” said Vande Streek.
Caleb Veldhouse chipped in 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting and John mantel added nine points and seven rebounds.
The Knights, who shot just 38 percent from the floor in their first seven games at Van Noord Arena, went 19-of-36 (52 percent) in the first half and 29-of-63 (46 percent) throughout, accounting for their best performance at home this season. Their previous best was 43 percent in a win over Kalamazoo on Jan. 28.
“Give all the credit to Danny and Velt for getting us going in those first couple minutes,” said Veldhouse, who is second on the team in scoring (13.1 points). “It starts with defensive rebounding, though. If you can get stops, get the board and get a quick outlet, it’s going to create more chances for your team.
“When people are knocking it down like that, it feels good. But you’ve got to continue to play team defense and rebound.”
Calvin outrebounded the Thunder 45-31 and has now won the battle of the boards in 13 of its 15 conference games this season. The Knights came into Wednesday’s contest with a league-best rebounding margin of +9.5.
Trine, a team that Calvin swept during the regular season, shot just 35 percent from the floor. Wes Weir, the Thunder leading scorer (14.1 points), finished 4-of-17 from the field, including 3-of-12 from 3-point range.
Chris Mislan and Randall Harris each tallied 12 points to lead Trine, while Weir had 11.
“Our guys were certainly prepared,” said Vande Streek. “They had a lot of respect for Trine, a nice team, certainly better than their record indicated. It was great to see us focused and play well.”
Calvin will now host Olivet, the No. 4 seed, on Friday in the MIAA Tournament semifinals. The Comets picked up a 60-57 win over the Knights at the Van Noord Arena back on Jan. 21 – Calvin’s only loss at home this year.
NOTES: Calvin’s 52 first-half points were the most since the Knights racked up 53 against Olivet in the first round of the MIAA Tournament last year (2007-08)…Veltema and Rodts combined to score 27 of Calvin’s first 40 points…Calvin is undefeated when both Veltema and Rodts score in double-digits…The Thunder have only beaten the Knights once since joining the MIAA. Trine (then Tri-State) defeated Calvin 68-58 on Jan. 27, 2007 for its lone win.