Monday, October 31, 2011

Top Ten Moments: 6. Hope's First Loss at DeVos, and Lightning Strikes Twice

10. Andy Draayer En Fuego
9. Calvin Claims Final GRSHOF Tournament Championship
8. Calvin Wins "Home" Tournament Game in Aurora
7. Matt Veltema's Only Field Goal Was a Good One

6. Hope's First Loss at DeVos, and Lightning Strikes Twice (February 7, 2007 and February 24, 2007)
Hope College opened the DeVos Fieldhouse for the 2005-2006 season with a team that was on the verge of a dominating three-year run. They'd finish their next three seasons in the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and Final Four in successive order. It seemed at the time that the shiny new arena carried with it some magic, but, looking back, they just had some amazing talent on the floor.

Our story picks up in year two of that run. Calvin entered the February 7, 2007 matchup with a disappointing 12-8 record that included a 22 point loss to Hope in the championship game of the GRSHOF Tournament and a three point loss in the regularly scheduled home matchup with the Dutchmen. The Knights needed a spark to to turn their season around, but a road game against the #6 team in the country who was a perfect 28-0 in their new gym didn't look like a golden opportunity.

But instead of mailing it in, Calvin knocked Hope down early and withstood the inevitable barrage by the Dutchmen. Calvin outworked Hope 28-11 on the glass in the first half, and used a 7-15 performance from beyond the arc to take a 46-35 lead going into the half. Hope whittled the lead all the way down, and even took a two-point lead with 2:38 left in the game, but Calvin closed the contest out with a 12-4 run to stun the DeVos crowd. Chants of "First-loss-in-De-Vos" and a court storming ensued.

Earlier in the season, the Calvin women had been the first road team of any gender to win a game at DeVos Fieldhouse, and now the men did the same. I found it fitting that the Knights were the first to blemish both the men's and women's perfect home record.

But the season wasn't over. The Calvin faithful had learned that the Knights were capable of beating anyone, but their record wasn't going to be good enough to earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, so they were faced with the prospect of needing to win a second game at Hope to win the auto-bid.

Calvin strolled back into Holland and again controlled the scoreboard for the majority of the game behind a strong shooting performance and a solid rebounding effort. But those pesky Dutchmen kept themselves in the game and, in true Rivalry fashion, the game was tied with the shot clock off near the end of the game. I'll let the video take over from here:

It's both incredibly easy and nearly impossible to describe moments like that with words. Unfortunately we haven't had many lately, but wins, close wins especially, in do-or-die situations are the greatest thing to experience as a fan. Nothing matches the adrenaline rush.

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