BLOOMINGTON, Il. - Winning road games at the Shirk Center on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University is never easy but the Calvin men's basketball team did just that on Friday, topping the host Titans 89-83. The game marked the season opener for the Knights and also marked the Calvin coaching debut for head coach Bill Sall who returned to his alma mater this past spring.
Calvin fell behind early 16-6 in the opening five minutes but roared back to take a 47-45 halftime lead.
The lead then changed hands 12 times in the second half before the Knights took the lead for good on a pair of free throws by junior Emmett Warners (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS) with 5:27 remaining that put the Knights up 74-73. Senior Alex Bos (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS) followed with a big defensive stop inside and defensive board that led to a pair of free throws by senior Derrick DeVries (Grand Rapids, Mich./Covenant Christian HS).
The Titans tied the game at 82 but DeVries answered with a clutch bucket in traffic to put the Knights up 84-82 with 1:50 remaining.
Illinois Wesleyan came within a point at 84-83 and had a chance to take a lead but Bos was big again with a big defensive stop inside with just over a minute of play. His defensive board led to another driving basket inside by DeVries that gave the Knights an 86-83 advantage.
Calvin then connected on three free throws down the stretch while Illinois Wesleyan misfired on a series of three-point attempts to close out the win.
DeVries poured in 28 points on 11 of 17 field goal shooting while Bos had 18 points and eight boards. Junior Thad Shymanski (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS) tossed in 18 points while Warners had 14 points and six boards.
COACHES COMMENT: "I thought we had a great compete effort tonight, really proud of our performance against a high-quality opponent," said Calvin head coach Bill Sall. "Illinois Wesleyan came at us really hard and to the credit of our guys, they stepped up their level of competition and fought back. That was great to see. Derrick DeVries had some huge buckets and Alex Bos was big on the boards and on defense. One of the guys that shouldn't be overlooked who had a very strong game for us was Tony DeWitte (Grandville, Mich./Calvin Christian HS). He did a lot of key things for us tonight that helped our team get the win. This was a big one but we've got another real tough one tomorrow."
NEXT UP: Calvin will travel to 17th-ranked Augustana on Saturday for a game scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. (EST).