Brian Morehouse thinks it might be hard to find a more competitive NCAA Division III women's basketball game in the country the first weekend of the 2017-18 season than Saturday.
He was relieved and proud after the nationally ranked Flying Dutch made a late charge to edge Rose-Hulman, Indiana 63-58 at DeVos Fieldhouse in the championship game of the Hope College Tip-Off Tournament.
The Flying Dutch scored the final eight points of the game — over a 72-second span — to beat a 24-win, national-tournament qualifying team from a year ago with most of its lineup returning.
"Just grateful for kids who are gutty," said Morehouse, whose team was outrebounded 43-25 and yielded 21 offensive rebounds to Rose-Hulman (1-1). "We played a lot of people. We had a lot of people step up. It's a lot of learning under fire. If we're going to be young and we're going to have these kind of experiences … it's nice to win."
Hope's overcoming of a 58-55 deficit began with two free throws from senior guard Madison Geers of Scottville, Michigan (Mason County Central) with 1:12 remaining.
After a Rose-Hulman missed 3-pointer and a turnover on one possession, the Flying Dutch came out of a timeout and sprung senior forward Jacquelyn Schwark open for a 3-pointer from the wing with 36 seconds remaining.
Schwark said freshman guard Kenedy Schoonveld of Zeeland, Michigan (Holland Christian) placed a perfect pass to her.
Morehouse credited assistant coach Courtney Kust with the play design.
"She handles all of our baseline out-of-bounds and our sideline out of bounds," Morehouse said. "She's got some really good after timeout calls."
Schoonveld and Geers then each sank two free throws for Hope's final points.
Schoonveld and Geers also finished in double figures with 10 and 11 points, respectively.
Junior forward Francesca Buchanan of Grant, Michigan (Sparta) topped the Flying Dutch with 15 points. She was named Tournament MVP and joined on the six-player, all-tournament team by Schoonveld.
Rose-Hulman forward Ally Bromenschenkel netted a game-high 22 points. She was joined on the all-tournament team by teammate Chiarra Franklin, who had 12 points off the bench.
Other all-tournament selections were Heidelberg's Aianna Wilson and Finlandia's Julie Daavettila. Heidelberg beat Finlandia 80-54 in Saturday's consolation game.