NCAA III Tournament Run Ends for Calvin Men’s BBall Team With 78-64 Loss at Illinois Wesleyan
Saturday, March 15, 2014
Story By Mark DeHaan/Photos by Larry Radloff
BLOOMINGTON, IL - The Knights continued NCAA Tournament play in the round of 16 on Friday evening, traveling to Bloomington, Illinois. Calvin’s “Sweet 16” opponent was host Illinois Wesleyan, and Friday night’s contest marked the first time the two schools matched-up in men’s basketball. The Titans entered at 25-4 and ranked #6 in the nation, while Calvin was 24-5 and #24 in the country.
Unfortunately for Calvin, Illinois Wesleyan built a lead at the end of the first half, and with the crowd behind the Titans, the Knights could not come back and it was Illinois Wesleyan advancing to the Elite Eight with a 78-64 win to earn a matchup with Dickinson tomorrow night.
Forward Victor Davis got the Titans off to a hot start, hitting his first three triples of the game as Illinois Wesleyan took a 9-2 lead early.
Calvin responded with a 10-2 run to take the 12-11 advantage with 12:55 to go in the first.
The teams then remained equal until the final three minutes. With the game tied at 28-28, Illinois Wesleyan broke away with some timely three-pointers and crowd-invigorating dunks.
By halftime, the Knights found themselves in a 40-33 hole and with momentum in the Titans’ favor.
Junior Jordan Brink (Dyer, IN/Illiana Christian HS) led Calvin with nine points in the first half while senior Tyler Kruis (Grand Rapids/Calvin Christian HS) added eight. Jordan Nelson scored 11 to pace Illinois Wesleyan.
The Knights shot 37.9% from the field in the first, 3-of-12 from beyond the arc and just 8-of-16 at the free throw stripe.
Out of the break, Calvin cut Illinois Wesleyan’s lead to 49-46 on a couple baskets from sophomore Jordan Daley (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS).
The Titans responded with an 8-0 run, and just as soon as the Knights had gotten within striking distance, Illinois Wesleyan built its lead back to double-digits at 57-46.
Dealing with foul trouble, the Knights struggled to get back into the game, and when the clock read all zeros, Calvin’s season ended with a hard-fought 78-64 loss.
Both Calvin and Illinois Wesleyan totaled 38 rebounds for the game. The Knights forced the Titans into just 10 turnovers, far less than in previous tournament wins against Wittenberg University and Washington University. Calvin also shot just 35.6% for the game.
Daley and Kruis led the Knights in defeat with 12 point, while Brink added 11 and senior Mickey DeVries (Lansing/Lansing Christian HS) 10.
Nelson led all scorers with 22 points while Davis chipped in 19.
“We knew it would be a challenge going into the game, but we felt we could play with them – and I think we did for a lot of it,” said head coach Kevin Vande Streek. “There was a stretch where I thought defensively we made some errors, and they made us pay seemingly every time, and that was pretty much the difference. I am very proud of our guys and I think we played really hard – Illinois Wesleyan was just the better team tonight.”
The Knights season ends in the third round of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season.
The loss ends the careers of Tyler Kruis, Mickey DeVries, and Jordan Mast. Calvin’s season ends with a record of 24-6.
FINAL SEASON NOTES: Calvin was making its 19th appearance in the NCAA III Tournament and is now 34-20 all-time in the NCAA III Tourney including 16-7 under current head coach Kevin Vande Streek….the Knights have reached the Round of 16 four times under his watch….Tyler Kruis concluded his career with 1,184 points and is currently 14th on the Calvin all-time scoring list….he also concluded his career with 159 blocked shots and is third on the Calvin career blocked shots list…junior Tyler Dykstra now has 99 career blocks heading into his senior season and is currently eighth on the Calvin career list….Junior Jordan Brink finished with 65 three-pointers this year - the 12th best single-season total in Calvin bball history…Brink is also closing in on 1,000 points for his career as he has 966 career points….at 24-6 this year, Calvin hit the 20-win plateau for the 17th time in school history.