HOLLAND, Mich.-- The Trine men's basketball team defeated Hope 82-77 in the MIAA Semifinals Friday night at DeVos Fieldhouse to advance to the MIAA Championship for the first time in program history.
The Thunder was able to prevail in a game in which neither team led by more than nine points. Jared Holmquist (Reed City, Mich./Reed City) scored a game-high 33 points on 11-of-16 shooting to lead the way. The performance gave the senior two straight efforts of 30-plus points and brought his career total over the 1,500-point mark. He was one of four Trine players in double-figures. Dante Hawkins led five Dutchmen in double figures with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Trine advances to the MIAA Championship for the first time since joining the conference in 2004. The win gives the Thunder its most wins in a season since 2000-01.
Trine shot 61 percent (28-of-46) from the field, including 15-of-23 (65 percent) in the second half. Will Dixon (Indianapolis, Ind./Zionsville) added 14 points on an efficient 6-of-10 effort from the floor and dished out five assists.
Kyle Dodson (Centerville, Ohio/Centerville) notched 12 points, while Tarvis Malone (Toledo, Ohio/St. John's Jesuit) chipped in 10 to round out double-figure scorers for the Thunder. Jordan Kreglow (Gibsonburg, Ohio/Gibsonburg) provided an important spark off the bench with nine points.
Ben Gardner added 15 points for the Flying Dutchemen. Hope shot 52 percent (26-of-50) from the floor and scored 13 second-chance points to Trine's none. Chad Carlson added 13 points, while Brock Benson and Cody Stuive each chipped in 12 to round out double-figure scorers for Hope.
The win is Trine's first ever over Hope in the MIAA Tournament. The Thunder was able to avenge three previous defeats to the Dutchmen in the MIAA Semifinals.
The big story on the night for Trine was the play of Holmquist. When the Thunder faced its largest deficit midway through the first half, the senior scored seven straight points to pull Trine back within two. Kreglow contributed five points in the closing minutes of the half to pull Trine within 37-35 at the break.
The Thunder had to come back in the closing minutes after Hope opened up its largest lead of the half at 68-61 with 5:09 to play. Six straight points, including four from Malone brought Trine back within one with 3:50 remaining and kept the game tight into the deciding stretch.
Trine took the lead back at 72-70 when Dodson outmuscled three Dutchmen for a rebound kicked it to Dixon for a three from the wing. After the two teams traded free throws, Carlson hit a three to put Hope up 75-74 with 1:35 to play.
The ability of the Thunder to drive the paint and get to the free throw line helped decided the game down the stretch. A free throw by Dixon and two free throws each by Holmquist and Malone gave Trine a 79-75 lead with 18 seconds left.
After a Gardner layup, Holmquist knocked down a pair of free throws and the Thunder came away with the stop at the other end to seal the victory.
Trine will face Alma at 8 p.m. tomorrow night in the MIAA Championship at Hope College's DeVos Fieldhouse. A win would give the Thunder its first-ever conference tournament crown and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.