Hope College had high hopes for stealing a share of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association regular-season women's basketball title from Calvin College in the rematch between the rival schools.
In the second half, those hopes faded fast Wednesday night.
Rebekah Llorens, who scored a career- and game-high 26 points, provided the Flying Dutch with some much-needed momentum at the end of the first half and at the outset of the second half.
It just wasn't something she and her teammates could sustain while suffering a 61-44 loss to the Knights in front of 1,328 fans at Van Noord Arena.
"It was a tough rivalry game. We didn't play as well as we would've liked to, especially on the offensive end," Hope coach Brian Morehouse said. "I thought we did a better job on them defensively than we did last time. They played very well defensively. As a result, we didn't put enough points on the board to win."
Hope (21-3, 13-2 MIAA) hadn't lost since suffering a 76-74 defeat to Calvin on Jan. 17 at DeVos Fieldhouse. The Flying Dutch entered the contest ranked 11thand 13th, respectively, in the polls.
Sixth-ranked Calvin (24-0, 15-0) clinched the outright MIAA regular-season title and the top seed in next week's MIAA Tournament. Hope will be the No. 2 seed and host an opponent to be determined on Wednesday, February 25 at DeVos Fieldhouse at 7:30 p.m.
In their rivalry rematch, the Flying Dutch made five field goals and matched their season-low with 20 points in the second half. Llorens was responsible for 14 of those points, including the opening basket.
"We shot 18 percent and made five field goals in the second half," Morehouse said. "You shoot 18 percent, you're not gonna win. I don't care who you're playing, you're not going to win the game.
"We missed too many shots. Some of that is because they played really good defense and some of that is because we missed shots that we normally make," he added. "I think it's probably a combination of both."
Llorens, a 6-foot-1 senior center from Grayslake, Illinois (Grayslake Central HS), finished 7 of 13 from the field and 12 of 14 from the foul line. She also grabbed 11 rebounds. The rest of the lineup combined to shoot 7-for-44, including 2-for-19 (10.5 percent) from 3-point range.
Brittany Berry, a senior guard from Grand Rapids, Michigan (Catholic Central HS), went 1-for-9 from beyond the arc, while Maura McAfee, a junior forward from Midland, was 1-for-7 from the field with a team-high 12 rebounds.
Autumn Anderson, a junior guard from Wayland, was the second-leading scorer with five points.
And, despite their struggles from the field, the Flying Dutch made it interesting. The Knights led 28-24 at halftime.
The lead swelled to 11 points at the 5:16 mark following four consecutive Hope turnovers, fueling a 10-0 Calvin scoring run. But Llorens established herself in the paint, collecting three baskets in the closing moments and giving the Flying Dutch some much-needed momentum heading into the intermission.
"We had the momentum, but rivalry games are games with ebbs and flows," Llorens said. "We figured how to exploit them and that was in the post."
It just wasn't enough to overcome the relentless Knights.
"In the end, we just didn't shoot it well enough to win the game," Morehouse said. "You have to shoot better than 25 percent (overall) to win against an undefeated team. I mean, they're undefeated for a reason.
"I felt really good about us at halftime. I felt we showed great resiliency in our comeback," he added. "I thought we were right where we wanted to be going into halftime."
Hope closes the regular-season on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Trine, which needs a win to clinch a MIAA Tournament berth.