GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A jumper in the lane with 30 seconds left to play by senior Michael Welch (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS) lifted the Calvin men's basketball team to a 71-70 victory over Albion Saturday afternoon at Van Noord Arena.
Calvin improves to 7-6 overall and 2-0 in the MIAA with the win. The Knights are also now owners of a three-game win streak - their longest of the year.
The victory was Calvin's second close shave of the week as the Knights won at Trine 66-64 on Wednesday night on a last-second shot by junior Tony Canonie (South Haven, Mich./South Haven HS).
On Saturday, Welch came up with the big go-ahead basket and the Calvin defense followed with a defensive stop to close out the win.
"The words of the day in our locker room was '40 minutes' and I said there was no better example than our game Wednesday night at Trine," said Calvin men's basketball coach Kevin Vande Streek. "Things may not always go perfect but I told our guys to keep grinding and they did."
Saturday's game featured eight first half lead changes but the visiting Britons (3-10 overall, 0-2 MIAA) closed out the half with a 10-2 run to take a 36-30 halftime lead.
Albion then opened the second half with a 9-2 run to build a 45-32 lead.
Calvin gradually chipped into the deficit however and clawed to within four at 50-46 on a three-point shot by junior Mike Siegel (Fremont, Mich./Fremont HS).
Albion still led by double-digits at 62-52 but a three-pointer by senior Cam Denney (Bluffton, Ind./Norwell HS) brought the Knights within 62-55 with 6:51 remaining.
Junior Michael Wilks (Hudsonville, Mich./Unity Christian HS) came up with nine straight points for Calvin inside the final five minutes including a three-point play that drew the Knights within two at 68-66 with 2:456 remaining.
Denney added a three-point play of his own to give Calvin a 69-68 lead with 2:02 left but Albion's Darius Branch drained a jumper in the lane with 1:42 remaining to put the Britons back on top 70-69.
Calvin then misfired on a pair of free throws at the 1:30 mark but came up with a defensive stop to regain possession. With time ticking down on the shot clock on the ensuing possession, Welch was able to snare a loose ball in the lane and swish a spinning shot from 12 feet out to put the Knights on top.
Calvin then forced Albion into an off-balance shot in the closing seconds that was off the mark to seal the win.
"I think the league is really balanced this year," said Vande Streek. "We work on our two minute drill every day in practice and when you have some upperclassmen on the floor at the end of a game, it really helps. I'm proud of our guys for fighting back and getting the win."
Denney led Calvin with 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Wilks had 14 points while Siegel, senior Nick Kronemeyer (Hamilton, Mich./Hamilton HS) and Welch all chipped in with eight points apiece.
Calvin held a commanding 45-28 rebounding advantage.
Albion's Dylan Bennett had 22 points off the bench including 16 in the first half. Branch also had 18 points for the Britons.
Calvin returns to action next Wednesday when it hosts Olivet at 8 p.m. at Van Noord Arena.