By Gina de Haan
On Saturday afternoon, the Calvin men's basketball team welcomed the Kalamazoo College Hornets to Van Noord Arena for its final regular season home game. Calvin's four seniors – Cam Denney, Nate Drews, Nick Kronemeyer and Michael Welch - were honored prior to the contest.
In the first meeting of the year between the two teams, Kalamazoo snapped Calvin's five-game win streak, claiming a 79-70 win in a game played at Kalamazoo's Anderson Athletic Center on January 18.
"I thought it was a great team win and a really great one to end the season on, as far as home games," said Vande Streek. "A lot of guys played well and our intensity was significantly better than last game."
With the win, Calvin improves to 13-10 overall and 8-4 in league play, in sole possession of second place in the MIAA standings. Kalamazoo falls to 2-10 in conference play with a 6-16 overall record.
The Hornets jumped out to an early 7-2 lead, but the Knights responded with four straight points to cut the deficit to one point.
Kalamazoo maintained its lead until freshman Derrick DeVries (Walker, MI/Covenant Christian HS) knocked down a three-pointer to put Calvin up 13-12. Freshman Tony DeWitte (Grandville, MI/Calvin Christian HS) followed, draining another triple and sophomore Austin Bykerk (Jenison, MI/Unity Christian HS) added a pair of free throws to complete the Knights' 8-0 run.
A dunk by Kalamazoo's Josh Miller momentarily broke up Calvin's momentum, but the Knights responded with six consecutive points. Calvin held a 24-10 lead with 8:06 remaining before halftime.
The Knights would outscore the Hornets 15-14 in the remainder of the first half, including three three-point field goals, courtesy of Bykerk, Alex Bos (Grand Rapids, MI/Grand Rapids Christian HS) and DeWitte.
At the half, Calvin was shooting 50% (13-26) from the field and 62.5% (5-8) from three-point range.
Junior Mike Siegel would start the second half with back-to-back threes to give the Knights a 45-24 lead. Senior Cam Denney (Blufton, IN/Norwell HS) followed, knocking down a jumper. Calvin possessed a 23-point lead just over a minute into the second half.
The Hornets chipped away at the Knights' lead, going on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to 14 points. DeVries interrupted the scoring run by draining a three, but Kalamazoo responded with four more points, forcing a Calvin timeout.
Out of the break, Kalamazoo's Tanner Blyly hit a triple to bring the Hornets within 10 points of the Knights, but Siegel responded for Calvin with a three-pointer of his own.
After back-and-forth scoring, the Hornets cut the Calvin's lead to 10 points once again. Alex Dykema forced Calvin turnover and hit a jump shot on the other end of the floor, making the score 60-50 with five minutes left to play.
Following a Hornet timeout, Kalamazoo's Chase Baysdell scored a tough bucket in the paint to reduce Calvin's advantage to single digits. With just under two minutes left to play, the Hornets would score again, bringing the score to 60-54. Senior Nick Kronemeyer (Hamilton, MI/Hamilton HS) responded with a big play for Calvin, pulling down an offensive rebound and putting it back for two points.
With 21 seconds remaining, Kalamazoo scored two points from the free throw line, but Kronemeyer knocked down a pair of free throws seconds later to secure the Knights' victory.
Mike Siegel (Fremont, MI/Fremont HS) posted a double-double in the victory, finishing with 16 points and 11 rebounds. DeWitte and Kronemeyer added 10 points apiece, while Tony Canonie (South Haven, MI/South Haven HS) scored nine points, dished out six assists and earned four steals. Denney recorded eight rebounds. Calvin's bench contributed 22 points in the winning effort.
"Kalamazoo is bigger, thicker and they really take away the inside game," said Vande Streek. "They force you to shoot it from the perimeter. Going into the game, I had said if we make more than six threes, I like our chances because that's what would have to happen."
The Knights shot 43.1% (22-51) on the afternoon, including nine three pointers.
Kalamazoo was led by Jimmy Paprocki who finished with 15 points. Chase Baysdell contributed nine points and nine boards in the loss.
The Knights will travel to Adrian on Wednesday to take on the Bulldogs. In the first meeting of the season between the two teams, Calvin earned a 79-67 win at Van Noord Arena. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.