A boost of defensive intensity and detail paid immediate dividends for the Hope College men's basketball team in a familiar tight matchup in The Rivalry.
The eighth-ranked Flying Dutchmen earned a 75-67 win against Calvin in front of a DeVos Fieldhouse crowd of 3,367 after opening the second half on a 10-0 run to take the lead for good.
Junior forward Harrison Blackledge of Canton, Ohio (Hoover HS) said the 99th victory against the Knights in 192 games came down to getting stops.
"Great teams, championships teams like we want to be, they get stops when you need to," Blackledge said. "And I think that's what we did in the second half."
The Flying Dutchmen held Calvin without a point for the first 2 ½ minutes of the second half and raised their lead to 39-30. Hope never trailed again.
Hope (16-2 overall) pushed its win streak to four games after staying a game behind first-place Alma in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association standings
The Flying Dutchmen also delivered Greg Mitchell first win over Calvin as head coach while ending a four-game losing streak in the series that Hope leads 99-93.
"We understand it is not a beauty contest. We just grind it out," Mitchell said. "We have to win on toughness. We are thrilled. After the way our season ended last year (at Calvin), this feels very good."
Senior guard Ben Gardner of Carmel, Indiana (Carmel HS), topped the Flying Dutchmen with 23 points — one short of matching his career high.
Fifteen of Gardner's season-high total came during a first half that saw the Flying Dutchmen rally from a 13-5 deficit to trail by a 30-29 margin at halftime.
Blackledge finished with 12 points.
After that, Hope utilized a variety of contributions. Senior center Brock Benson of Willowbrook, Illinois (Hinsdale South HS) and junior guard Chad Carlson of Rockford, Michigan (Rockford HS) chipped in eight apiece.
Senior forward Sam Otto of Wheaton, Illinois (Wheaton North HS) and junior center Keith Brushwyler of St. Joseph, Michigan (Stevensville Lakeshore HS) had seven apiece.
Hope returns to action on Saturday at Albion. Tipoff is 3 p.m.