Hope hopes to extend its season
|Courtney Kust, and the
massive Hope crowds, are a significant part of the Flying Dutch's
Hope athletics photo
Hope's women's basketball team essentially played an NCAA tournament game over the weekend when it battled Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association rival Calvin in the conference tournament championship game.
The Flying Dutch were ranked No. 2 in the nation. The Knights were No. 3 in the country. And in the end, in a game that would have been worthy of a national semifinal or even a national championship battle, Hope prevailed, edging Calvin 62-59.
“It was a good precursor for the NCAA Tournament,” Hope head coach Brian Morehouse said. “We played against a very good basketball team, and if we play each other 50 times, we probably each win 25. It was a good experience and I am happy we found a way to win.”
There is a chance the two teams will meet again. It would be for a trip to the Elite Eight. For now, Hope (25-1) is just thrilled about being back in the tournament. A year ago, it was one of the top teams in the nation, ranked nationally all season, and was left out of the dance.
This will be the 14th tournament trip in program history for Hope.
“It’s great to be back. It’s a big deal for us,” Morehouse said. “The feeling never gets old and it’s something you never take for granted. It’s always exciting for the older players and for the younger players who have never experienced it before.”
The Flying Dutch are in the NCAA tournament and are a viable contender for the national championship because they are a complete team.
A lot of it has to do with their success on the defensive end of the floor. The Flying Dutch are holding opponents to 43.7 points per game and their defense has been anchored by senior guard Liz Ellis, the three-time MIAA Defensive Player of the Year.
Ellis has racked up 57 steals and has blocked four shots. She also averages 10.3 points per game and has knocked down 40 3-pointers.
Hope has held opponents to 32.6 percent shooting from the field and 30.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc. The Flying Dutch have forced 711 steals, an average of 26.3 per game, and have tallied 410 steals.
“We haven’t really changed much from last season,” Morehouse said. “We are healthy, though, and I think that has made us deeper. We’v...