By Mark DeHaan
Calvin men's basketball faced off with Adrian College on Saturday afternoon at VanNoord Arena.
The Knights looked to keep pace with Trine University at the top of the league standings while the Bulldogs played to stay in the running for a conference tournament spot.
Calvin entered with a 7-2 MIAA record while Adrian was 5-4.
Behind strong three-point shooting, particularly from guard Austin Parks and forward Connor VanderBrug, Calvin claimed a 69-61 win to improve to 8-2 in the MIAA.
The Knights fell behind 9-3 early as they committed three turnovers in the opening three-plus minutes.
Calvin cut the deficit to one at 15-14 on a deep-three by junior Austin Parks with 12:06 to go in the first half.
A six-minute field goal drought by Adrian then allowed the Knights to build a 24-15 lead.
With 3:23 remaining, Calvin's advantage grew to as many as 34-20 on a three-pointer from freshman Connor VanderBrug.
Adrian responded to finish out the first half on an 11-3 run to put Calvin's lead at 37-31 at the break.
The Knights shot 46.2% overall from the field, including 6-of-11 for 54.5% from three-point range, while Adrian shot 48.1%. Individually, Parks and VanderBrug each had eight points for Calvin. Ricky Jackson, Jr. led the Bulldogs with nine points at the half.
Out of the break, the teams played evenly as the gap remained six points with 9:37 to go in the second at 49-43 in favor of Calvin.
With 1:20 to go, Adrian whittled Calvin's lead down to 65-59, but a few missed shots down the stretch for the Bulldogs sealed the win for the Knights at 69-61.
Calvin was 44.9% from the field overall, 10-of-22 for 45.5% from beyond the arc. Adrian hit 47.3% of its field goals. The Knights out-rebounded the Bulldogs 36-23.
Individually, VanderBrug led Calvin with 17 points, also adding five rebounds. Parks scored 14 points and senior Jordan Brink added 11.
With his 11 points, Brink moved past Chris Prins and into 11th place on the Calvin career scoring list, boosting his career scoring total to 1,365 points.
For Adrian, Justin Webster scored 17 points, Jackson, Jr. contributed 16 points and six rebounds, Ben Rodak scored 11, and Jordan Denham added 10 points.
"You play Adrian and it's just a grind-it-out kind of game. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't always the best, but I think we forced them into some tough things as well and we did a nice job down the stretch," said head coach Kevin Vande Streek. "In a sense, (each game) becomes more important because you have less of them. Kalamazoo will be hard, it will be really tough there, and we certainly won't be looking past anyone. I always tell the guys we want to look at the small picture and we want to keep the big picture in mind, and that is to continue to improve and get to the point of becoming the best team we can be."
With the win, Calvin improves to 15-6 overall, 8-2 in the MIAA, while Adrian falls to 7-14 and 5-5 in league play.
The Knights now look forward to Wednesday when they travel to Kalamazoo to face the Hornets. Calvin and Kalamazoo will tip-off at 6:00 p.m.