Calvin Men's Basketball Stunned in Overtime at Alma 87-85

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ALMA - Watching second half leads vanish has become a recurring theme for the Calvin men's basketball team in conference play. Through the first half of the league schedule, the Knights were able to dance just out of the fire, holding on for close victories over Alma, Kalamazoo and Albion. On Saturday, Calvin again watched a large second half lead vanish and this time the Knights were burned, suffering an 87-85 overtime loss at Alma College.

The loss at Alma snapped Calvin's 33-game win streak against the Scots dating back to 1999. It also marked Alma's first win over Calvin at Alma since 1989.

The loss by the Knights coupled with Hope's overtime victory over Trine on Saturday also creates a three-way tie for first place in the MIAA standings. Calvin, Hope and Trine are all 6-2 in league play with Calvin set to host Hope Wednesday night at 6 p.m. at Van Noord Arena.

In Saturday's defeat, Calvin held a 76-58 lead with 7:19 left in regulation but watched the lead disappear as Alma went on a 20-2 over the final 7:04 of regulation. Calvin committed five turnovers during that run while Calvin converted only one of six field goals attempts during that stretch.

Alma (6-13 overall, 4-4 MIAA) tied the game at 78-78 on a pair of free throws by Scott Nikodemski with 8.8 seconds left in regulation. Calvin had a chance to win the game but a final shot attempt came up short, sending the contest into overtime.

In overtime, Alma jumped out to a quick 83-78 lead. Calvin (13-6 overall, 6-2 MIAA) battled back with layups by freshman Connor VanderBrug and junior Jordan Daley and then took the lead at 85-83 on a triple by junior Austin Parks.

Nikodemski tied the game at 85 on a layup with 1:41 remaining. Both teams then came up empty on their ensuing possessions with Calvin regaining the ball with 41 seconds left in overtime.

The Knights worked the ball down for a shot but missed a three-point attempt at the end of the shot clock, giving the Scots the ball with 4.8 seconds left and the length of the floor to go. Once again it was Nikodemski who stepped up as he dribbled up the middle of the floor and swished an open 15 footer at the buzzer to give the Scots the stunning victory.

"It's the same thing that we've been dealing with for the last stretch of games and that's losing our focus and concentration," said Calvin men's basketball coach Kevin Vande Streek. "Give Alma credit for the comeback and to Nikodemski for making the big shot but we made a lot of silly decisions with the basketball that cost us in the end. If we want to win games the rest of the way, we have to toughen up and maintain our focus for the entire basketball game."

Nikodemski led all scorers with 29 points while DJ Beckman had 15 for Alma. Calvin was led in scoring by Parks who had 17 points including five three-point field goals. Senior Jordan Brink and junior Jordan Daley both had double-doubles. Brink tallied 15 points and 10 rebounds while Daley had 15 points and 14 boards. Tyler Dykstra also had 13 points and eight boards while VanderBrug chipped in with eight points.

Calvin held a 53-32 rebounding advantage but Alma was able to convert 10 of 21 from beyond the three-point arc. Calvin also committed 15 turnovers in the defeat.

Calvin led 39-31 at halftime with its largest lead coming at 18 points.

Wednesday's game against Hope will feature the 190th meeting between the two long-time rivals.