Two weeks after splitting their games against Carthage College and Wheaton College in the MIAA/CCIW Challenge, the Knights returned to Wisconsin to face the Redhawks of Ripon College on Friday evening.
Facing a potent offensive squad in the Redhawks, Calvin could not come back from a late double-digit deficit as Ripon claimed an 86-80 victory.
Despite not having played a game for nearly two weeks, the Knights hung early with Ripon and the teams traded early leads.
With 12:25 to go in the first, the Redhawks saw their largest lead of the first half at 17-11.
Calvin responded with a 14-2 run, capped by a three-pointer by freshman Tony Canonie with 6:01 to go, to see the Knights build their largest lead of the first half, also a half-dozen, at 25-19.
Ripon then closed out the first half with a 15-7 run of its own, taking a 34-32 lead into halftime.
At the break, guard Ty Sabin led Ripon with 16 points while senior guard Jordan Brink had seven for the Knights.
In the second half, the Redhawks jumped out to a 39-34 advantage.
Calvin closed down the deficit and tied the game at 41-41 on a triple from Brink, but Ripon responded to build another lead.
Trailing 55-50, the Knights again tied the ball game up at 55-55, but for the second time in the half, could not take the lead.
Pacing the Redhawks attack, Ty Sabin began to open the game up offensively, pushing the Ripon offense to a 77-67 lead with 2:40 to go.
Brink answered with 11 of Calvin's next 13 points as the Knights got to within two at 82-80 with 0:21 remaining, but the hill was too steep for Calvin to climb and Ripon closed out an 86-80 victory.
Calvin shot 51.7% for the ball game while the Redhawks hit 45.8% from the field. The Knights also out-rebounded Ripon 37-30 for the ball game, but the Redhawks forced 11 turnovers on Calvin, while only committing 5 themselves. Ripon was also much more assertive on the offensive end, shooting 20-of-27 from the free throw line while the Knights were just 9-of-14.
Individually, Brink led the Knights with a career high 29 points. Junior Jordan Daley and freshman Connor VanderBrug each added 10.
For Ripon, Sabin had 38 points to lead all scorers while fellow guard Kyle Loughrin scored 15.
"They had 52 points in the second half, and that's disappointing. It's not a technique thing, it's not a system thing, it's a hustle thing, saying 'I'm going to beat you to that ball,'" said head coach Kevin Vande Streek. "In the last three minutes they had a couple of offensive rebounds where they just wanted it more than us."
The Knights fall to 5-4 with the loss while Ripon improves to 7-2.
Calvin now looks forward to Saturday when it faces the Titans of UW-Oshkosh. The non-conference matchup is set to tip-off at 4:00 p.m.