Women’s Basketball Team Defeats Saint Mary’s 64-58 at Van Noord Arena
Friday, December 11, 2009
(written by Derek Neice)
On a frigid Friday evening on Calvin’s campus as students prepare for exams next week, the fiery women’s basketball team came out and defeated Saint Mary’s 64-58 in a tough conference contest. Freshman Carissa Verkaik again led the team in points, rebounds and blocks, nearly getting a triple double.
The game pushed 19th ranked Calvin’s already strong record to 8-1, and gave some retribution to the Knights who had lost three straight games to the Belles last season, including a game that knocked Calvin out of the MIAA tournament.
Friday’s game, which Calvin won 64-58, featured some tough defense on both ends of the floor. Both teams also emphasized the importance of getting the ball in to the post players. The strategy worked, except for a number of miscues in the passing game for the Knights, and they maintained an early lead all the way through the break as well as the second half.
“The senior leadership has been phenomenal so far,” said Calvin coach John Ross after the game when asked about his team’s hot start to the season. “The kids get along really well and we’ve had some good performances from a lot of people.”
In the first half both teams felt each other out as the scoring was held to a minimum. Calvin eventually took a tentative lead, but the Belles battled back, and with only a couple minutes left in the half, they were in front 31-29. Calvin then got some clutch free throws from senior Amber Benthem (McBain, MI) and a superb transition lay-up by sophomore Jill Thomas (Grand Rapids, MI) to give Calvin a one-point lead.
On the ensuing Belles possession the ball was turned over and Calvin had time for one more shot, one that freshman sensation Carissa Verkaik (Holland, MI) took from well beyond the three point arc. The shot came up just short, clanking off the rim, but Calvin took the lead into the break. Verkaik led the Knights in first half points with 11, as well as 4 blocks.
“She’s just an outstanding person who comes and plays hard every day,” said Ross of freshman Carissa Verkaik. “She’s a competitor who knows the game of basketball real well and she’s doing a phenomenal for us on the boards.”
In the second half the tempo again took a little while to get going, but Calvin eventually found their niche, and they took advantage of a 10-0 run to go up 56-43, a lead they would hold through the buzzer despite a minor comeback by Saint Mary’s in the closing minutes.
“They’ve had our number in previous years,” said Ross of Calvin’s rivalry with the Belles. “Tonight was pretty big for us this early in the year.”
For the Belles, sophomore Kelley Murphy (Olathe, KS) led the team with 17 points and 11 boards. The rest of the scoring was divvied up pretty evenly among the remaining players on the Belles lineup. Verkaik finished the game with 15 points, 20 boards, and 9 blocks, just one shy of a triple double. Other notable performers for Calvin included Brook Van Eck (Lowell, MI) who had 10 points and 8 rebounds, and Benthem, who finished with 11 points. Senior Emily Ottenhoff and freshman Allison Wolffis added eight points apiece with Ottenhoff collecting five assists.
Calvin is back in action Saturday at 3 p.m. in another conference battle against Kalamazoo.