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Women’s Basketball Upsets Top-Ranked Hope 56-55 at Van Noord Arena

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

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Box Score

Story by Andrew Knot/Photo by Dan Vos

In a clash of MIAA powers, Calvin topped top-ranked rival for the first time in nine games.

The Knights prevailed 56-55 after Carrie Snikkers’ last second jump shot fell short.  Snikkers was guarded by the significantly shorter Jill Thomas. 

“I just stood as tall as I could,” said Thomas on her defense. 

Calvin developed its lead thanks to a 20-2 run at the end of the first half.  The Knights trailed by nine with eight minutes remaining in the half.  Calvin capitalized in the paint, with lay-ups from sophomores Carissa Verkaik, Julia Hilbrands, and Ally Wolffis.  Calvin took a 20-2 run into half-time.

“[That run] gave us the confidence we needed to win the game,” said Verkaik.

But it was Thomas who stole the show with a buzzer-beating half-court shot to give Calvin a 29-20 advantage at half-time. “It’s your instinct to let the ball go when you see the clock get down like that.  I actually didn’t think it was going it,” said Thomas.

Her coach was more confident.

“From my angle, I knew it was in from the moment it left her hand,” said Coach John Ross.

Hope responded with a run to open the second half.  The Dutch tied the game at 31 just four minutes into the half.  But Calvin responded well, Verkaik scored six of Calvin’s next eight points to give the Knights a seven point lead.

“It was a game of runs.  We responded to their runs and overcame them,” said Thomas.

Still, Hope managed to tie the game and take a brief 49-47 lead with under five minutes to play. Then the Knights responded with consecutive three-pointers from Thomas and Kelsey Irwin, giving Calvin a five point lead at 56-51.

The Dutch cut the lead to one point after Snikkers was fouled on a reverse lay-in.  The deficit remained at one, however, when Snikkers missed what would have been the game-tying free throw.

From there, Calvin’s defense held strong.  Leah Mattison blocked a Liz Ellis jump shot and Jill Thomas held her ground against Snikkers, last year’s National Player of the Year.

“We said going into this game, ‘Let’s play Calvin basketball’” said senior Courtney Kurncz.

The Knights did that, earning a victory with calm composure. “We stayed calm all game.  That’s the personality of this team,” said Ross.

Critical to Calvin’s victory was their perimeter shooting.  The Knights shot 6-12 from beyond the arc and held Hope to 2-11 three-point shooting. Verkaik lead the Knights with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists.  Jill Thomas contributed 11 points and four boards. 

Snikkers led all scorers with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

The victory advances Calvin to 7-0 in conference and 13-3 overall.  It also marks the second time that Calvin has upset the Dutch as a top-ranked opponent, doing the same in 2007 in a 60-57 triumph at Hope’s DeVos Fieldhouse.

Calvin is now 25-4 all-time at Van Noord Arena and is 2-0 this year at home against top-10 ranked opponents. Calvin also defeated (then) fifth-ranked Carthage 69-59 on December 8 at home. Tuesday’s contest marked the 99th meeting between Calvin and Hope since 1966. Calvin leads the all-time series 62-37.

Calvin hosts Trine on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

John Ross Postgame Audio Interview

WZZM-TV 13 Video Clips With Jill Thomas Halfcourt Shot

WOOD-TV 8 Video Clips With Jill Thomas Halfcourt Shot

WXMI-Fox 17 Video Clips

Grand Rapids Press Coverage

Holland Sentinel Coverage

Posted in: Women's Basketball
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1 comment on "Women’s Basketball Upsets Top-Ranked Hope 56-55 at Van Noord Arena"
  • CONGRATS Team! A good effort and nice win. More to accomplish, enjoy the journey.

    Oh .. I could see Jilly’s 3pt buzzer beater shot going in from the time it left her hands too :) - even on the webcast.

    Posted by Tom Ottenhoff on 01/19 at 03:33 PM