The Flying Dutch women’s basketball team is headed to the NCAA Division III championships for the 14th time in school history.
Coach Brian Morehouse's Dutch gained the MIAA's automatic berth in the elite tournament by defeating rival Calvin 62-59 on the Knights' court before nearly 2,800 fans on Saturday.
A year ago the Flying Dutch were left out of the post-season tournament despite being nationally ranked the entire year.
This year the team took it out of the committee's hands. The tournament bracket will be announced today.
The Flying Dutch (25-1) are in the tournament for the 12th time in 17 years under coach Morehouse.
Senior Courtney Kust scored a career-high 29 points, including 18 in the second half, to rally the Flying Dutch who had been beaten on Calvin's court during the regular season.
Hope rallied to cut Calvin's halftime lead to two points, 30-28. Calvin had led by nine points, 30-21, with less than two minutes remaining in the half. Seven minutes into the second half the teams were tied for the sixth time, 41-41.
Free throws and a basket by Rebekah Llorens put Hope ahead to stay. Hope led by as many as eight point down the stretch, but the decision wasn't sealed until Liza Ellis with 16 seconds remaining made a pair of free throws.
CALVIN MEN WIN BIG
Rival Calvin gained an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III championships by topping the Flying Dutchmen 77-57 Saturday in the conference tournament title game.
The loss ends a string of seven consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament by the Flying Dutchmen, who finish the season with an 18-9 record.
The game was tied six times when Calvin went on a seven-point run to gain the lead for good.
The host Knights led 36-28 at halftime and by as many as 25 points in the second half. The game turned very physical with 45 personal fouls whistled resulting in 65 free throw attempts.
Senior Nate Snuggerud led the Flying Dutchmen with 17 points. He ended his career 13th on the Hope career scoring list with 1,366 points.
Nate VanArendonk scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds for Hope, while Alex Eidson added five points, four rebounds and a blocked shot.