GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Calvin women's basketball team tipped off against No. 6 Hope College on Wednesday evening in the 120th edition of The Rivalry. The Knights fell 70-69 in a hard-fought battle against a nationally-ranked team.
Through 50 years of The Rivalry, Calvin holds a 71-49 series lead. Hope won the first meeting of the year, claiming a narrow 58-51 victory on January 13 at DeVos Fieldhouse in Holland.
With the loss, Calvin falls to 14-8 overall with a 9-4 to sit at fourth place in the MIAA. Hope improves to 20-1 and an 11-1 conference mark for first place in the league standings.
"I am very proud of my team, they did a tremendous job against a roster that could win a national title, said head coach Chuck Winkelman. "We are a little bit short-handed and we have been since October, with Bre missing three weeks, three games at the start of the year against some high-quality competition. We keep battling, Rachel gets hurt and we battle Trine to the wire. I guess my wish for this team is that the community would know more about that narrative and they do not. I am disappointed for my team that they do not know that. We don't celebrate grit, heart, authenticity and a love for Jesus Christ like we should like I should and that hurts. God sees our heart, he measures us by our heart, not by our outward appearance. I don't think I jumped around or flopped around at all tonight. I tried to be poised and honor him with that. I think that is the bottom line, honoring God and glorifying him and it is harder sometimes when you lose a game like that. I love Bre, I love Ali, this is a team I have grown to love and they are not really mine. I didn't recruit them, I didn't know them when they were seniors and juniors in high school. They have been a group of women who were very easy to fall in love with this year. Really, I love my wife and I love my daughters, but my teams have always been our second families and this is certainly one that after a first year and going into the second truly feels like an extended part of our family."
The Knights came out strong, jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game. Junior Becca Richards (Fort Gratiot, Mich./Port Huron Northern) kicked the game off with back-to-back buckets and sophomore Kara Minderhoud (Grand Rapids, Mich./Covenant Christian) followed by knocking down a three-pointer.
Hope freshman Lauren Newman responded by knocking down a triple, but Richards answered with another bucket. Four straight points by the Flying Dutch made it a 9-8 game just over three minutes into the contest. Calvin's offense continued to roll as senior Ali Spayde (Lewis Center, Ohio/Worthington Christian) and Minderhoud strung together five straight points to put the Knights up by six points.
The Flying Dutch shaved Calvin's lead to one point with just over two minutes left in the quarter and, after free throws on both ends, the Knights held an 18-17 lead as time expired.
Hope senior Jacquelyn Schwark scored the first bucket of the second quarter to earn Hope its first lead of the game. The lead exchanged hands four times in the following minute, the scoreboard reading 23-22 in favor of the Flying Dutch.
With just over seven minutes left in the second quarter, the Knights scored back-to-back layups to go up by three points. Hope used two consecutive three-pointers to regain the lead until sophomore Nicole Meyer (Macomb, Mich./Eisenhower) hit a triple of her own to knot the score at 29.
After three minutes of no scoring, Meyer scored again to give Calvin a two-point advantage. Hope freshman Olivia Voskuil scored the final bucket of the half with just over a minute remaining in the half, and the two teams headed into the break tied at 31.
The Knights kicked off the second half with a three-pointer by Richards to reclaim the lead. After being held scoreless for the first three minutes of the quarter, Hope staged a six-point run to go up 37-34 and force a Calvin timeout. Two free throws by Spayde made it a one-point game, but Hope rebuilt its lead to five behind buckets by Kenedy Schoonveld and Lauren Newman.
The Flying Dutch maintained its lead until the two-minute mark of the third quarter when the Knights' offense heated up. Senior Bre Luurtsema (Holland, Mich./Holland Christian) scored a layup, but was answered by a three by Hope's Victoria Swift to put the Flying Dutch up by six. Luurtsema responded by hitting a jumper and Minderhoud followed with a basket as Calvin closed out the third quarter on a 6-3 run. The Knights headed into the final quarter trailing Hope 48-46.
Following a Hope bucket, Minderhoud knocked down a timely three to bring the Knights within one point of the Dutch. A pair of free throws by Luurtsema earned the Knights a 51-50 advantage with just over eight minutes left in the contest. Hope held Calvin scoreless for nearly three minutes while scoring five straight points to lead 54-51.
The Knights pushed back again as Meyer and Spayde scored to give the Knights the advantage. After a Hope bucket, Meyer hit a three-pointer to make the score 58-56 in favor of the Knights. Another Dutch basket was answered by a triple by Richards. Hope's Newman responded with a three-pointer of her own, but Richards scored again on the other side of the floor to make the score 63-61.
With just over two minutes remaining, Hope's Schoonveld hit a three to give the Dutch a one-point lead. Luurtsema and Spayde both went two-for-two from the free throw line to give the Knights 67-64 lead with just over a minute remaining.
Hope's Francesca Buchanan scored on the other end of the floor to bring the Flying Dutch within one. Spayde knocked down two free throws again, but Buchanan converted again to make the score 69-68 in the final seconds. After timeouts on both sides, Buchanan scored a buzzer-beater off an in-bounds play to lift Hope to victory.
Calvin featured a diverse scoring effort in the loss. Spayde led Calvin with 18 points, 12 of those points coming in the second half. Richards followed with 16 points. Luurtsema had a solid all-around game, finishing with 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Minderhoud posted 11 points and six boards, while Meyer added 10 points and seven rebounds.
Wednesday marked the sixth time this season that the Knights have faced a ranked opponent this season, with three of those games ending in a one-possession game.
The Knights are back in action on Saturday when they travel to Kalamazoo for another conference matchup. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.