Alma, Mich. - The Alma College men's basketball team, ranked 13th in the lastest D3hoops.com Top 25 poll, kept pace for the lead in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association and won its 15th straight game at Art Smith Arena, defeating visiting Calvin College, 91-79.
The Scots, at 17-5 overall and 10-1 in the MIAA, remains in a first-place tie with seventh-ranked Hope College with three games remaining in the conference schedule.
Senior Scott Nikodemski (Rockford, Mich./Rockford) led all scorers with 21 points, including 11-for-11 shooting from the free throw line. Nikodemski also became the 11th player in Alma College history to score 1,000 career points when he netted his 13th point of the evening.
Three other Scots were in double figures, including sophomore Doug Bradfield (Mason, Mich./Mason), who scored 17 points with 7-for-8 shooting and added four blocks. Sophomore Jason Beckman (Shelby, Mich./Shelby) and senior DJ Beckman (Shelby, Mich./Shelby) contributed 16 and 14 points, respectively, as Alma shot over 54 percent from the floor, including 41 percent from long range.
Cam Denney led Calvin (9-13, 4-7 MIAA) with 20 points, hitting 10 of his 18 shots, while Jordan Daley added 17 points and a game-high eight rebounds. The Knights were held to .354 shooting from the floor, including 12 percent from behind the arc. Calvin did outbound the Scots by a 53-32 margin and grabbed 22 offensive boards to Alma's three.
The Scots, which swept Calvin in the season series, built up a 10-point lead 11 minutes into the game and cruised into the half with an 18-point advantage behind 13 points from Bradfield in the opening frame. In the second half, Alma was up by as many as 20 points with 10:43 to play before Calvin mounted a comeback attempt. The Knights put together a 19-6 run in a span of less than five minutes to pull within seven at 69-76 with 5:41 to play. Daley fueled the run for Calvin, scoring nine points, while Austin Parks his back-to-back threes as the Knights closed the gap.
Calvin couldn't get any closer, however, as the Scots held on down the stretch to secure their 17th win of the season, the most since the 1988-89 campaign.
Alma will return to Art Smith Arena on Saturday, Feb. 13, to host Trine University in the final regular-season home game for the Scots. It will be Senior Day for Alma College, with six seniors receiving recognition prior to the game. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
• Alma's 17 wins are the most since the 1988-89 campaign and tied for fifth-most in school history.
• The Scots have won their last 15 games at Art Smith Arena.
• Alma's 10 wins in MIAA play tie the school record for most league wins in a season and are the most since 1963-64. No team in school history has won more than 10 conference games.
• Head Coach Sam Hargraves is now 3-8 when coaching against his alma mater and has been victorious in the last three regular-season meetings with Calvin.
• Scott Nikodemski became the 11th player in school history to score 1,000 career points. He now has 1,008 points to rank 11th all-time in scoring.
• Nikodemski netted a career-high 11 free throws and was a perfect 11-for-11 from the line.
• Doug Bradfield tallied four blocks for the fifth time this season and extended his school record to 56 blocks for the season. He also tallied his 100th career block, becoming only the third player in Alma history to accomplish the feat.
• DJ Beckman moved into eighth place on Alma's career scoring list, surpassing Dan Stolz, who has 1,258 points from 1975-79. Beckman now was 1,267 career points.
• Beckman also moved into a tie for second place on the career three-pointers list with Cory Schneider (2008-12). Both have 217.
Head Coach Sam Hargraves
On the game...
"It (sweeping Calvin) probably hasn't been done in a while so we are very happy to be able to do that. I thought maybe everybody got a little relaxed on our side when the lead got built up a bit, but we certainly have got to get better than we were tonight. It's good to get back on the winning track, at least."
On what the success of this season means...
"It means that we've had a good year and it means that I'm going to feel really bad if we don't validate it down the road. We've gotten better every year and we're proud of that."