By Mark DeHaan
The Calvin men's basketball team traveled across town on Friday evening to play the Saints f Aquinas College in the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame Tournament.
The Knights entered the contest with two straight wins against the Saints. Calvin and Aquinas was the second game of the night, with Hope defeating Cornerstone 77-64 in the first game of the tournament.
Extending its win streak to three over Aquinas, Calvin earned a 73-64 victory by using a strong second half defensive stand in which the Saints were held more than nine minutes without a field goal.
Just over four minutes into the game, Calvin held an 11-5 lead. Back-to-back threes by Aquinas guard Kevin Grant then tied the game at 11-11 less than a minute later.
Senior Jordan Brink hit a jumper with 10:06 to go to put Calvin up 21-18. After the Knights held the lead for a few minutes, an and-one by Jake Bullock for the Saints put the game into Aquinas' favor at 25-23.
The Saints then held the lead at 31-29, but an 8-0 run by the Knights, capped by a three-pointer from junior Austin Parks, gave them the largest lead of the half at 37-31 with 2:56 to go in the first.
Aquinas was able to cut the deficit to three by half, and at the break, the Knights held a 41-38 edge.
Sophomore Brad Visser led Calvin with eight points at halftime while Brink and Parks each added seven. The Knights shot 48.4% in the first half while Aquinas hit 50% of its field goals.
In the second half, the Saints took a lead of their own. With Calvin leading 52-50, Aquinas went on a 9-0 run to claim a 59-52 edge with 11:48 to go.
The Knights answered the Saints scoring run with lock-down defense. Calvin held Aquinas nearly 10 minutes without a field goal, scoring 12 unanswered points to turn the tables and build a 64-59 advantage.
The Saints then cut the deficit to 64-63 with 1:21 to go, but a big three from Parks solidified the Calvin lead, and the Knights iced the game at the free throw stripe to claim a 73-64 victory.
Calvin shot 50% for the game, holding Aquinas to just 33.3% from the field in the second half and 41.1% for the game. The Knights outrebounded the Saints 38-27.
Individually, Brink led Calvin with 17 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Park added 15 points while senior Tyler Dykstra chipped in nine.
For Aquinas, Grant finished with 17 points while Anthony Williams and Jake Bullock each scored 10.
"The thing we kept saying (to the team) was the toughest team was going to win this game tonight. Aquinas is really tough. They're physical, defend really well, and I have a lot of respect for them," said head coach Kevin VandeStreek. "We continue to make progress, and tonight was a hard-fought game against a good defensive team in Aquinas. Our guys really responded and showed great mental toughness."
Calvin improves to 4-1 with the win while Aquinas falls to 5-4.
The Knights look forward to Saturday evening and their second matchup of the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame Tournament against Cornerstone University. Calvin and Cornerstone will tip-off at 6 p.m. on Saturday.