By Mark DeHaan
The Calvin men's basketball team opened up its MIAA season on Wednesday evening, hosting the Scots of Alma College.
Behind a balanced scoring effort which saw five Knights find double-figures, Calvin held off a late rally from the Scots to earn a 93-87 victory.
With the win, the Knights move to 18-1 in conference openers during head coach Kevin Vande Streek's tenure.
The teams opened up the game evenly as Calvin held a slim 8-7 margin with 16:52 remaining in the first.
A 9-0 run by the Knights over the next two minutes then gave the home team a double-digit advantage at 17-7, forcing an Alma timeout.
Calvin increased its lead to 29-14, the largest lead it would see all game, and with 11:05 to go in the first, Alma used another timeout to try and slow down a Knights offense which was shooting 61.9% for the game thus far.
The Scots offense then began to pick up, and along with a cooling of the Calvin offense, Alma began to chip away at the Knights lead.
By halftime, Calvin's lead was whittled down to six at 49-43. Freshman Connor VanderBrug led the Knights offense with 10 points at halftime as Calvin shot 53.8%. Alma, meanwhile, shot 56.7%.
Out of the break, Alma's DJ Beckman scored seven straight points to bring the Scots within two at 52-50.
A 14-6 run by the Knights then brought their lead back to double-digits at 66-56.
Again the Scots fought back, and with 7:06 to go, Alma had cut the Knights lead to 72-69.
Seven straight by Calvin again pushed the Knights lead to ten at 79-69, but Alma worked its way back to trail by a single point at 80-79 with 2:33 remaining, forcing a timeout from Calvin head coach Kevin Vande Streek.
After four straight points from the Knights to open up an 84-79 margin, Alma again cut Calvin's lead to one at 86-85 with 0:46 left in regulation.
A key tip-in with 0:21 to go from senior Tyler Dykstra put the Knights ahead 88-85, and after a missed shot by the Scots, Calvin iced the game at the free-throw line to earn a 93-87 victory.
Calvin shot 54.8% for the ball game while the Scots were 50.8% from the field. The Knights out-rebounded Alma 39-26.
Individually, five Knights tallied double-digit points led by senior Jordan Brink with 20, also adding seven rebounds. Dykstra and junior Jordan Daley each added 14 while VanderBrug finished with 13 and sophomore Cameron Denney chipped in 12.
For Alma, DJ Beckman scored 22 points while Jason Beckman added 18 and Doug Bradfield chipped in 16.
"Alma is probably as good an offensive team as we have play this season, and they are a hard matchup for us," said head coach Kevin Vande Streek who is now 18-1 in MIAA openers. "I thought our guys continued to work hard stay with it, and didn't hang their heads when things didn't go quite right. They stayed focused until the end."
Calvin now looks forward to Saturday when the Knights travel to Holland and the DeVos Fieldhouse for the first matchup of the season with rival Hope. The Rivalry is set to tip-off at 3:00 p.m.