By Mark DeHaan
HOLLAND, Mich. - The Calvin College men's basketball team traveled to Holland on Saturday afternoon to face off with the Flying Dutchmen of Hope College in the first edition of the Rivalry this season.
The teams came in having played five common opponents in non-conference action. Calvin had gone just 2-3 against those teams while Hope was 4-1.
The records, however, just like in any other matchup of the Rivalry, did not matter.
An explosive second half from the Knights, including 61.5% shooting from the field and a 17-of-21 effort from the free-throw line, saw Calvin pull away from its rivals to earn an 88-64 victory.
In the opening four minutes, Calvin's offense was flat, hitting 1-of-7 shots and 0-of-4 from three-point range as the Knights fell into an 11-2 hole.
Calvin responded with seven straight, including five from senior Jordan Brink, to close the gap to 11-9.
With 8:30 remaining in the first, a deep three from Brink again cut into the Flying Dutchmen lead, bringing the score to 18-17.
Minutes later, the Knights saw their first lead on a driving layup from junior Austin Parks at 21-20.
After the Flying Dutchmen tied up the ballgame at 23-23, three straight triples from the Knights and a floater from Brink put Calvin ahead by double-digits 34-23 with two minutes to go.
Hope would hit one more three before halftime, and at the break, Calvin led 34-26.
Brink led Calvin with 10 points at the half as the Knights shot 38.2%. Hope, meanwhile, hit just 25.7% of its shots. Harrison Blackledge was the leading scorer for the Flying Dutchmen at the break with seven points.
In the second half, Hope drew within three at 36-33 just under three minutes in. Baskets from junior Jordan Daley and senior Dan Stout then built the Calvin lead back up to seven at 40-33.
With 13:40 to go, the Flying Dutchmen again fought their way back, knotting the game at 48-48.
With Hope threatening to take the lead with strong second half shooting, Calvin's defense locked down.
Over the next nine minutes, the Knights forced six Flying Dutchmen turnovers while limiting Hope to 3-of-12 shooting from the field. Calvin, on the other hand, was much more assertive offensively, and behind 12 points from Brink and 8-for-8 shooting at the free throw line as a team, the Knights went on a 26-6 run to build a 74-54 advantage.
With just over four minutes remaining, the deficit was too great for the Flying Dutchmen to overcome, and Calvin went on to claim the 88-64 win.
The Knights shot 48.3% for the game, including 50% (11-of-22) behind the three-point arc, while Hope was just 35.9% from the field. Hope enter the game ranked sixth nationally in three-point field goal defense (.252).
Calvin committed just eight turnovers for the game, tying its lowest output of the season, while forcing the Flying Dutchmen into 14. The Knights shot 19-of-24 from the free throw line.
Individually, Brink led Calvin with 29 points, which matched a career-high. In doing so, he moved past John Mantel and into 13th place on the Calvin career scoring list as Brink now has 1,283 career points. Stout added ten points and eight rebounds while Daley was also in double figures with ten points, grabbing seven rebounds.
For Hope, Blackledge had 19 while guards Ben Gardner and Sam Otto each contributed eight.
"I was really proud of our guys. When Hope made the run back to tie it up, there was a lot of resolve on our part, we just gutted it out one possession at a time and built the lead back," said head coach Kevin VandeStreek. "One of the things we had talked about was being bold – being aggressive and determined – and I thought if we did that we'd have a chance at being in the game, and we certainly were that."
"Unfortunately, we didn't stay committed to what we wanted – inside-outside basketball – and we became three-point specialists for a while," said first-year Hope head coach Greg Mitchell. "We had a lot of opportunities to stop droughts, but it seemed like there was a lid (on the basket)."
With the win, Calvin improves to 9-4 overall and 2-0 in the MIAA while Hope falls to 7-6 overall and 0-2 in league play. At 2-0 in league play, Calvin is tied with Adrian for first place in the MIAA standings.
The Knights now look forward to Wednesday when they travel to Adrian to face the Bulldogs in a first place MIAA showdown. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.