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More news about: Calvin
Kayla Engelhard is part of a big 1-2 punch for Calvin.
Calvin athletics photo

It appears the Calvin women’s basketball team has picked up where it’s left off from last season: two wins over nationally ranked teams, a four-game win streak and a No. 3 ranking in the latest poll.

Life is looking good for the Knights, who won the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association regular-season and tournament titles a year ago before making a run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament.

“Our team came into this season hungry to build on what we accomplished last year,” Calvin head coach John Ross said. “We have played a tough schedule to start and have won a couple of games against ranked teams. Our team has handled it well and it will benefit us in the long run.”

The Knights picked up their latest win on Nov. 28, taking down Albion 77-42 on the road in their MIAA opener. They bolted in front 16-5 and never looked back on a night when they drilled 10 3-pointers.

The victory was their fourth in a row, a streak that began just three days after it was beaten 84-63 by UW-Stevens Point, which is currently the No. 12 team in the nation.

The streak has included an 84-75 win over a Thomas More team ranked No. 11 at the moment. The other win over a ranked opponent came against St. Thomas. The Knights opened the season with a 78-72 win over the Tommies, who are ranked fourth in the country.

“Those games were big for us because they showed us what it takes to be a good basketball team. We understand we have to come ready to play every night,” Ross said. “Our league is very tough and those games we played against some of the better teams in the country will help prepare us to play at a high level in our league.”

Offensively, the Knights have been led by senior center Carissa Verkaik and sophomore guard Kayla Engelhard.

Verkaik is averaging 17.7 points per outing and grabbing 9.2 rebounds per tilt. Engelhard is clicking for 16.8 points per game and grabbing 5.3 rebounds per contest. She has also dished out 16 assists and has tallied 11 steals.

Engelhard scored 17 points in the win over Albion, including 10 of the team’s first 16 points.

“Kayla has had a real nice start to her season,” Ross said. “She has done a good job of stepping up with her scoring but she also does well in other aspects of the game. Carissa is having a good year, too, and we feel like (senior forward) Julia Hilbrands will start to contribute more as she gets settled into basketball mode. Hilbrands also plays volleyball at Calvin.

“Julia is going to become a big contributor for us and help take our team to that next level,” Ross said. “We expect her to give us a lift with her scoring and with her play on defense.”

Calvin is averaging 75.8 points per outing and giving up 61. The Knights are shooting 48.7 percent from the floor but average 18 turnovers per game.

“There are times where we have had trouble taking care of the ball,” Ross said. “We want to cut down on those turnovers and also continue to shoot the ball well. We’re also looking to get more balance in our scoring. One of the things we have done a good job at is not only breaking the press, but scoring off of it.”

From a defensive standpoint, the Knights are holding to 37.2 percent shooting and forcing 17.5 turnovers per game. They are grabbing an average of 38.3 rebounds per game as well.

“We have done a good job of rebounding the basketball and we’ve had games where we’ve been able to limit points for our opponents,” Ross said. “We want to do a better job of containing the ball handler on the other team and finish more plays on defense.”

Ross expects his team to continue to make strides. After all, the Knights have a lot of experience on their side.

“Our veteran players have been to the NCAA tournament and they have won conference titles,” Ross said. “We have set our goals high because we do have experienced players and while we know that there are no easy games on our schedule, we understand what we have to do to be successful every time we play.”

Top 25 Notes

Men: Top-ranked Virginia Wesleyan knocked off Frostburg State 85-64 on Sunday and Chris Teasley became the 25th player in program history to score 1,000 career points. Teasley poured in 21 points in the win and reached the milestone when he threw down a dunk. He is averaging 16.4 points per outing and the Marlins are 5-0….Defense proved to the be the difference for No. 16 Wooster as it rolled to a 60-41 win over rival Wittenberg on Saturday. The Fighting Scots held the Tigers to their lowest point total since the 1985-86 season. They limited Wittenberg to 28.6 percent shooting. Wooster is 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the North Coast Athletic Conference and is holding opponents to 60.2 points per outing…No. 19 Adrian remained unbeaten after a 62-51 win over Carnegie Mellon on Saturday. Erick Lewis scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to pace the Bulldogs, who are 7-0.  Adam Meier also came through with a double-double as he dropped in 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Women:  For the first time in program history, top-ranked DePauw is 6-0. The Tigers got there on Saturday after rolling to a 61-39 win over Denison in their NCAC opener. DePauw has won its last 31 games in the regular season. On this day, it was Alex Gasaway (17 points, 14 reounds) and Ellie Pearson (13 points, 12 rebounds) paving the way…Rosa LaMattina matched her career-high of 27 points and helped lead second-ranked Mount Union to a 72-69 win over Denison on Nov. 28. LaMattina tied the game at 63-63 with three seconds to play and the Purple Raiders (5-0) prevailed in OT to extend their non-conference regular-season win streak to 28 games. LaMattina is averaging 17.4 ppg on the year…No. 7 Hope returned home after four consecutive road games and knocked off Trine72-35 on Saturday. The Flying Dutch trailed 16-15 early but quickly took control as they improved to 5-0 overall and to 2-0 in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Liz Ellis scored 13 points and Courtney Kust added 12 points. Hope forced 20 turnovers in the win…Allison Long was one of three players in double figures for No. 11 Thomas More in a 77-68 win over Waynesburg in Presidents’ Athletic Conference action on Saturday. Long poured in 23 points while Sydni Wainscott clicked for 14 points. Katie Kitchen added 11 points as the Saints improved to 6-1 overall and to 2-0 in the PAC…CenzieYoder came through with a big game for No. 20 Ohio Northern as it knocked off Marietta 75-48 in an Ohio Athletic Conference game on Saturday. Yoder scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the victory. She was 5-of-10 from the field and also dished out six assists as the Polar Bears moved to 5-1 overall and to 1-0 in the OAC.

American Southwest Conference

For the first time in program history, the Texas-Tyler men’s basketball team is 4-0. The Patriots edged Texas Lutheran 63-60 on Saturday to maintain their perfect record. They are 3-0 in the conference for the first time since the 2009-10 campaign.

Darren Houliston hit two free throws in the closing seconds to give Texas-Tyler a 62-60 lead and Travis Dykman split a pair of free throws to seal the deal.

Tre Potter scored 16 points to pave the way for the Patriots, who shot 43.5 percent from the field. Houliston pumped in 15 points and Dykman scored 13 points.

The Patriots won despite turning the ball over 21 times. They held Texas Lutheran to 39.2 percent shooting.

Jessie Pittman came through with a solid performance for Concordia’s women’s basketball team, scoring a career-high 15 points in a 77-49 win over Ozarks on Saturday.

The Tornados have won their last nine games against ASC opponents dating back to last season. Concordia trailed 14-6 early but went into halftime with a 39-26 advantage.

Pittman scored all of her points from beyond the arc as the Tornados improved to 4-1 overall and to 2-0 in the conference. Pittman is averaging 6.0 points per game and has made eight treys this year.

Great South Athletic Conference

Salem College is on a roll as it won its fourth consecutive game on Saturday with a 59-51 win over Southern Virginia on Saturday.

Satavia Taylor turned in a strong performance, pouring in 19 points as the Spirits improved to 4-1 on the year. Salem shot only 35.5 percent from the field but it got after it on the defensive end of the floor, forcing 31 turnovers.

Taylor has led the Spirits in scoring in all five games, dropping in 18 or more points three times. She is averaging 17 points per outing and has drilled 13 3-pointers. Taylor is also grabbing 6.0 rebounds per game and has tallied 19 steals.

Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association

Zach Hurth was impressive in his performance against Elmhurst on Saturday, scoring 15 points to lead the Albion men’s basketball team to a 67-59 non-conference victory.

Hurth made one 3-pointer and connected on four of his eight attempts from the field. He also tallied two steals. He came into the game averaging 5.5 points per outing.

Albion (3-3) shot 40.4 percent from the floor as it won for the second time in its last three games. It was the fourth time this year that the Britons have had a game decided by 10 points or less. They are 1-3 in those games.

Kelsey Campbell caught fire from beyond the arc in the Olivet women’s basketball team’s 79-75 win over St. Mary’s (Ind.) on Saturday.

Campbell buried five 3-pointers en route to scoring 19 points as the Comets improved to 4-1 overall. Olivet has won its last three games and is averaging 69.4 points per outing. The Comets are giving up 63.8 ppg.

Campbell has been a key to the early-season success. She is clicking for 14.4 ppg and has knocked down 16 treys.  She is shooting 55.8 percent from the field overall.

Stefanie Lang leads the Comets in scoring at 15.0 ppg. She is also grabbing 7.0 rebounds per outing.

North Coast Athletic Conference

Andy Winters made his presence felt on Saturday for Ohio Wesleyan’s men’s basketball team, recording the first triple-double in program history as the Bishops knocked off Allegheny 76-62 in the NCAC opener for both teams.

Winters scored 12 points and also came through with career highs in rebounds (11) and assists (13). His assist total ties the school record.

Taylor Rieger led Ohio Wesleyan with 25 points as the Bishops improved to 5-1 on the season. They have won their last two games.

It turned out to be a big day for head coach Mike DeWitt as well. He won his 200th game at the school and is 200-155 in his career with the Bishops.

The Allegheny women’s basketball team dominated in the paint in its 66-48 win over Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday in a conference tilt on Saturday.

The Gators outscored the Bishops 44-28 in the post and also capitalized on 20 turnovers, scoring 22 points off of those miscues.

Daryl Ford scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds to pace Allegheny while Ann Ryan clicked for 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Ford is averaging a team-best 14.4 points per outing and has led the team in scoring twice.

The Gators, winners of back-to-back games, are 3-2 overall and have started 2-0 in conference play for the second consecutive season.

Ohio Athletic Conference

John Carroll’s men’s basketball team opened up conference play with a win as it overcame a 38-36 halftime deficit against Heidelberg to earn an 83-77 win on the road Saturday.

The defending regular-season OAC champions were led by the 23-point performance of Kyle Hubbard.

Danny Wallack poured in 16 points, David Hendrickson clicked for 15 points and Ryan Angers added 11 points for the Blue Streaks, who improved to 3-2 overall.

Hubbard has led John Carroll in scoring four times this season, scoring 15 or more points each time. He is one of three players averaging 10 or more points per game for a Heidelberg team that is averaging 78 points per contest.

Marietta’s women’s basketball team lost its first OAC game of the season as it fell 75-48 to nationally ranked Ohio Northern on Saturday. The loss dropped Marietta to 1-1 in conference play.

The Pioneers are still 4-2 overall on the season, though, and got a strong performance from Krissy Rowe, who scored 13 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Candice Alexander was also tough in the paint. She scored six points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

Marietta shot only 26.5 percent from the floor and is shooting 38.4 percent from the field on the season. The Pioneers are averaging 60.7 points per outing and giving up 61.5.

Old Dominion Athletic Conference

Playing on the road didn’t seem to bother the Randolph College men’s basketball team as it knocked off Washington and Lee 67-52 to improve to 5-0 for the first time since the 2009-10 campaign.

The WildCats are one win shy of their best start ever to a season. They are 2-0 in conference play and have won all four meetings against the Generals in Lexington.

Colton Hunt poured in 23 points to pace the WildCats as he continued his stellar start to the season. Hunt has scored 20 or more points four times this year. Mike Ehilegbu pumped in 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds.

Randolph shot 44.9 percent from the field and outscored the Generals 26-18 in the paint.

The Virginia Wesleyan women’s basketball team nearly blew a 22-point lead but found a way to hang on for a 66-58 win over Eastern Mennonite in an ODAC encounter on Saturday.

The Marlins had their lead cut to 60-56 with less than two minutes to play before sealing the deal. The win was the 150th for head coach Stephany Dunmyer. Her team is now 4-3 overall and 2-0 in the conference as it has won three consecutive games.

Sarah Seipp drilled five 3-pointers and finished with 21 points while Katie Tassa and Rachael Miller scored 11 points apiece. Seipp is averaging 16.3 points per contest this year and has made 17 shots from beyond the arc.

The Marlins made 10 3-pointers in the win, the fourth-highest total in program history, and that proved key on a day when they shot only 34.8 percent from the field overall.

Presidents’ Athletic Conference

Bethany’s men’s basketball team was pushed to the limit by Grove City on Saturday, grinding out an 87-83 road win in overtime.

The Bison had rolled in front 65-50 with 11:30 to go behind a 19-4 run but couldn’t maintain the lead. Reece Mayberry got the game into OT by scoring on a putback with two seconds to play and he scored six points in the extra session to help Bethany seal the deal.

It was part of a big day for Mayberry, who finished with 21 points and dished out four assists. Nick Wilcox clicked for 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds while James Barton finished with 15 points as he pushed his career point total to 914. Wilcox is the team’s leading scorer at 16.7 ppg.

Bethany has won four consecutive games, scoring 80 or more in all four wins, and is 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the PAC.

Behind a 33-6 run in the first half, the Saint Vincent women’s basketball team took control against Westminster and rolled to a 77-44 victory in PAC action on Saturday. The Bearcats led 40-14 at halftime and never looked back as they won the only home game they will play in their first 12 games of the season.

Saint Vincent is 4-2 overall and 2-0 in the conference. The Bearcats, who have won their last two games, dominated on defense as they limited the Titans to 30.8 percent shooting from the field. They also held a 43-28 rebounding edge.

Taylor Mathers came through with 14 points and eight rebounds to fuel a balanced attack.

Ally Schmidt scored 12 points, dished out five assists, grabbed three rebounds and tallied two steals and Melissa Mansur pumped in 11 points to go along with five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Devin McGrath clicked for 10 points and grabbed six rebounds on a day when the Bearcats shot 48.3 percent from the floor.

Southern Athletic Association

Centre survived its first ever SAA game, holding off Sewanee 50-48 on the road on Saturday.

The Colonels, who have yet to play in a game that hasn’t been decided  by more than 10 points, opened up an early 13-4 lead but the Tigers battled back to make things interesting.

The end of the game was particularly interesting as the two teams combined to miss four shots from the floor, two free throws and also combined for two turnovers.

Centre is 4-2 overall and 1-0 in the league after handing the Tigers their first loss of the season.

Tyler Wesley led Centre with 14 points. He also pulled down eight rebounds. Josh Karsner clicked for 11 points and Blake Scinta came through with 10 points and eight rebounds in his first collegiate start.

Berry’s women’s basketball team rattled off its third consecutive win on Saturday, knocking off Spelman 75-56 in Atlanta.

Tara Mullinax played well in the win, scoring 12 points, while Alexa Evans and Danielle Sisk scored 10 points apiece.

Berry shot 47.3 percent from the floor and held Spelman to 39 percent shooting as it improved to 4-3 on the season.

The Vikings have held all three opponents to under 60 points during their win streak and have scored at least 67 in each of the wins.

Contact Me

Feel free to send me comments, questions or story ideas throughout the season as I always enjoy hearing from the readers. You can also follow me on Twitter @BLester1993.

Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Findlay, Ohio. He has 14 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending the last 10 at The Courier in Findlay. The highlight of his career was covering the University of Findlay men's basketball team's perfect 36-0 run to an NCAA Division II national championship in 2009. During his career, has covered all three levels of the NCAA tourney and has done freelance work for newspapers and web sites. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois and lives in Ottawa with his wife and daughter.