GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Calvin men's basketball team closed out its season with a 95-88 win over the Olivet College Comets. The Knights jumped out to an early lead and fended off a second-half comeback to take down the top team in the MIAA.
Calvin finishes its season with at 10-15 overall with a 6-8 conference record. With the loss, Olivet falls to 15-10 on the season with a 10-4 MIAA mark. Picked to finish fourth in the MIAA preseason coaches' poll, Olivet claimed a share of its first MIAA title since 1973 with a 70-49 victory at Hope Wednesday night.
"I'm extremely proud of this team," said head coach Kevin Vande Streek. "Obviously, this season didn't turn out how any of us wanted to – players, coaches, fans – but this past week, we had really good practices. The guys stayed bought in and were enthusiastic. Losing a tight one at Albion was tough, but to come back and beat the conference champion at home, I couldn't be more proud."
Calvin leading scorer sophomore Derrick DeVries (Grand Rapids, Mich./Covenant Christian) got the Knights on the board first, hitting a three-pointer in the first possession of the game. Olivet responded with back-to-back buckets the Knights scored five straight points to take an early 8-4 lead. Freshman Jason Walter (Coloma, Mich.) scored in the paint before DeVries drained his second triple of the contest.
The two teams exchanged points until Calvin used two straight three-pointers, courtesy of senior Michael Wilks (Hudsonville, Mich./Unity Christian) and freshman Luke Morrison (Bristol, Ind./Northridge), to go up by seven and force a Comets' timeout. The Knights continued to roll out of the break, as Wilks and Walter scored to extend the run to double digits and make the score 20-9.
Olivet pushed back, using a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to four points and force a Calvin timeout. Out of the break, Wilks hit a triple to break up the Comets' momentum. Olivet used two straight layups to make the score 23-20, but Tom Morrison (Bristol, Ind./Northridge) and Walter each hit threes to give Calvin a nine-point advantage with just over six minutes remaining in the half.
Olivet strung together four straight points out of a timeout before senior Tony Canonie (South Haven, Mich./South Haven) fed Luke Morrison for a fastbreak bucket to make the score 31-23. Calvin maintained its lead for the next three minutes before closing out the half with a strong offensive push.
With just under two minutes left in the half, buckets by sophomore Alex Bos (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian) and DeVries widened Calvin's lead to ten. After a Comets' bucket, DeVries drained a triple with just under thirty seconds left on the clock. Bos converted on a pair of free throws and Calvin headed into the halftime break with a 45-32 lead.
The Comets scored a quick four points out of the break to make it a nine-point game. Canonie responded with a three to earn back Calvin's double-digit lead. After another Olivet bucket, Walter hit a three of his own to make the score 51-38.
Olivet's offense heated up as Jalen Adams scored six straight points. The Knights rebuilt their lead to 12 as DeVries converted on a trio of free throws and Luke Morrison drove to the hoop for a bucket. Calvin held a fourteen-point lead less than five minutes into the half.
The Comets used seven straight points to make the score 60-53, but Canonie broke up the run with a three-pointer. Olivet chipped Calvin's lead to five points to force a timeout by the Knights. After a Calvin bucket, Olivet's Tracey Edmond scored five straight points to bring the Comets within two points of the Knights.
DeVries scored for the Knights, but Olivet came up with three straight buckets to go up 71-69, its first lead of the game. Following a Calvin timeout and a pair of Olivet free throws, Wilks hit a timely three-pointer. Junior Austin Bykerk (Jenison, Mich./Unity Christian) capitalized on an old-fashioned three-point play to earn back the lead for the Knights. After a pair of free throws by the Comets, the score was knotted at 75 with just over five minutes remaining.
Following an Olivet timeout, Canonie knocked down a triple but was quickly answered by a Comets' three. Three straight points by Bykerk gave the Knights the advantage, but an Olivet basket made it a one-point game. DeVries responded in the next possession, knocking down a three-pointer from the corner before Bykerk converted on a pair of free throws to make the score 86-80 with just over two minutes left to play.
Out of a timeout break, Canonie drained two free throws before Olivet's Jalen Adams hit a three to make it a five-point game. After another Comets' timeout, Luke Morrison came up with a key bucket. The Comets were unable to complete the comeback as Luke Morrison sunk five free throws in the final minute of play to lift the Knights to a seven-point victory.
DeVries notched a double-double in the victory, finishing with a team-high 21 points and 10 rebounds. Luke Morrison followed with 20 points, also recording four blocks. Wilks posted 13 points, also earning four blocks, while Walter finished with 12 points. Canonie had a solid all-around game, finishing with 11 points, seven assists, four blocks and a pair of steals. Bykerk posted a team-high 11 rebounds, also contributing seven assists and nine points. Calvin's bench chipped in 39 points in the winning effort.
The Knights shot 50% from the floor on the afternoon, including 48.3% from behind the three-point arc. Calvin claimed a narrow 42-37 rebounding advantage over its visitors.
Saturday's contest served as Calvin's senior day, as the two senior co-captains Tony Canonie and Michael Wilks played their final game in a Calvin uniform. Over their four-year career, Canonie and Wilks have helped the Knights tally 58 victories which include an MIAA regular season championship in 2015 and MIAA Tournament titles in 2015 and 2017. Both players have been a part of two teams that have reached the NCAA Division III Tournament, including last year.
"What a great example of buy-in and selflessness they've been for four years," said Vande Streek. "Never once in four years did they ask about playing time or about shots. They just always put the team first. They're quality guys off the court as well as on – good students, good Christian young men. We will certainly miss them and we're very proud to have had them on our team."