By Mark DeHaan
ALLIANCE, OH - The Calvin men's basketball team traveled to Alliance, Ohio, and the campus of the University of Mount Union for its NCAA Tournament first-round matchup on Friday evening. The Knights faced off against the Lakers of Oswego State, winners of the State University of New York Athletic Conference.
Calvin entered the national tournament contest with a 21-6 record, while the Lakers were 19-9. The Knights were making their 20th NCAA Tournament appearance all-time, while it was only the third appearance for Oswego State, but its third in five years.
Despite a late run that saw Oswego State take a second-half lead, timely three-point shooting and strong shooting from the free-throw line saw Calvin claim a 78-69 victory. With the win, Calvin advances to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season.
The Knights jumped out to an early lead, building a 13-5 advantage in the opening five minutes behind eight points from senior Jordan Brink.
Minutes later, a dunk from senior Tyler Dykstra saw Calvin take its first double-digit lead at 21-10.
The Knights lead increased to as much as 12 with 7:53 remaining in the first half at 26-14.
A 12-2 Oswego State run then cut the Calvin lead to just four at 28-24 with 3:37 to go. In the remaining time, the Knights saw its lead build to seven as Calvin took a 36-29 lead into the break.
At halftime, Calvin shot just 34.2% from the field, but 6-of-15 from three-point range for 40%. Oswego State was 35.7% from the field in the opening period. The Knights held a 24-22 rebounding advantage at the break. Brink had ten points to lead the Knights while Brian Sortino led the Lakers with nine points.
In the second half, Calvin re-extended its lead to double-digits. With 12:44 to go, senior Daniel Stout hit a jumper to put the Knights up 58-45, their largest lead of the ball game.
Over the next six minutes, a 19-5 Oswego State run, capped by a layup by Sortino, saw the Lakers take their first lead of the game at 64-63 with 6:25 remaining.
A triple from the Lakers brought them within four, but strong defense by the Knights, and 5-of-6 shooting from the free-throw line by Brink down the stretch, saw Calvin claim a 78-69 victory.
The Knights were 44.4% from the field, including 60% in the second half. Calvin was 12-of-24 for 50% from three-point range for the game. The Lakers finished at 40.4% from the field, 5-of-19 for 26.3% from beyond the arc. Calvin out-rebounded Oswego State 37-36.
Individually, Brink led Calvin with 18 points, adding seven rebounds and five assists. Freshman Connor VanderBrug contributed 17 points while Daley had his sixth double-double of the year with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Parks and Dykstra were also both in double-figures with 12 points and 10 points, respectively.
For Oswego State, Sortino and Kyle Covley each had 21 points. Rashawn Powell added 11 points and 12 boards.
"We got a little bit ahead, by double-digits, then they went zone and we struggled a little bit. Turned it over a couple times, just didn't find our rhythm at first," said head coach Kevin Vande Streek. "Then did a much better job – attacked at the free-throw line, Jordan Daley had a couple good plays in there then Austin (Parks) had two huge threes. They missed a couple, finally, down the stretch, we boarded it, handled the press, and made some free throws."
With the win, Calvin advances to the second round. The Knights have a quick one-day turnaround before the game on Saturday night.
"All these games are hard," said Vande Streek. "I liked the resolve of our guys tonight. We've had some toughness, we played a good schedule, and tomorrow night will be another tough challenge, no doubt about it."
Calvin's second-round contest will be played against host Mount Union on Saturday evening, with tip-off scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Mount Union was an 87-59 first round winner over Neumann College Friday.