Women’s Basketball Topples Cornerstone 69-50 In Season Opener
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
(Written by sports information student assistant Derek Neice)
GRAND RAPIDS - Basketball has made its comeback here at Calvin as the weather turns colder around campus. Last week the men opened their season with a home exhibition game against Division II team Ferris State University, and the women initiated regular season play Tuesday night against East Beltline rival Cornerstone University. In that game the Knights would initiate strong defense and shoot very well from the floor as they rolled to a comfortable 69-50 win over the Golden Eagles.
Both teams struggled in the opening minutes to put points on the board, with Calvin not scoring until almost four minutes into the half when sophomore guard Courtney Kurncz made two consecutive shots from the free throw line to cut a Cornerstone lead to 6-2. From there the Knights took advantage of a couple of big first half scoring runs to take complete control of the game.
“We know this is going to be a roller-coaster type year with so many freshmen and a lot of players with not very much experience,” said Coach John Ross after the game, “but we have really good leaders and the team gets along really really well, and I think that will make up for a lot of things.”
“I was happy with a lot of performances tonight,” Ross continued, “Carissa [Verkaik] put up a real good performance, and Kelsey [Irwin] threw in a little shocker with a couple of big threes in her first game, so that was good to see.”
The first big run came with around ten minutes to play in the first half and Cornerstone sitting on a slim 12-11 lead. Calvin’s offense and defense exploded simultaneously, and the Knights scored twelve straight points to take a ten point lead at 22-12.
In the ensuing minutes Cornerstone managed to claw its way back into the game, closing the gap to 26-21. Calvin responded to that counterattack by going on another huge run, a 14-0 clinic that put the Knights ahead by an immense 19 points. The first half would end with a 41-25 Calvin lead.
At the break Calvin as a team was shooting 55 percent, making 16 of 29 shots. The Knights were led in scoring by Kurncz and freshman forward Carissa Verkaik, who both had 10 points. Along with her point total, Kurncz amassed three blocks and a steal in the first frame. Verkaik was perfect from the floor, hitting on five shot attempts in the paint. She also led the team with four rebounds in the first half.
Cornerstone shot 33 percent in the first half and was led in scoring by sophomore guard Robyn Veltkamp, who also had 10 points.
As the second half started, both teams again struggled to get anything going offensively, and the game went fairly back and forth for most of the first ten minutes of the half. Cornerstone would creep back into the game after that, cutting the deficit to a ten point 51-41 Calvin lead. The Knights then went on a few mini scoring runs and upped the score to 60-44. From then on, they controlled the game on both sides of the ball and closed things out, winning by nineteen points.
Verkaik finished her first ever game as a Knight, and a good one at that, with a double-double. She scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, leading Calvin in both of those categories.
Jill Thomas came off the bench for the Knights and scored 12 points, scoring on all four three point attempts she attempted. Kurncz finished with 10 points and also grabbed five boards, blocked four shots, and dished out four assists. Post player Brooke Van Eck also finished with 10 points six rebounds and three steals.
“We can only take one game at a time,” Ross said of the team’s next step of the season. “We’ve got a tough Marian team this Friday and that game won’t be easy. We’ll have to be ready to play.”
Calvin is back in action on November 20th when they travel to Ohio to play Marian University in the Wilmington Tournament, hosted by Wilmington College.