GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Calvin men's basketball team fell 68-62 to nationally-ranked Illinois Wesleyan on Friday night at Van Noord Arena. The Knights came back from a fifteen-point first-half deficit to trail by four at halftime, but the No. 19 Titans held a 32-30 edge in the second half to claim the win in the closely-contested game.
With the loss, the Knights fall to 1-1 on the season, while Illinois Wesleyan improves to 2-0.
The Titan's Brady Rose was a significant factor in the win, racking up a game-high 34 points and shooting 57.9% from the field, including five three-pointers. The duo of sophomore Thad Shymanski (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian) and senior Jason Walter (Coloma, Mich./Coloma) led the Knights with fifteen points apiece. Junior Derrick DeVries (Grand Rapids, Mich./Covenant Christian) finished with 12 points, while senior Austin Bykerk (Jenison, Mich./Unity Christian) chipped in 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Senior Alex Bos (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian) also collected eight boards in the loss.
The Titans built an early 11-5 lead as senior Brady Rose collected seven early points. Calvin responded with two quick buckets to trail by two, but Rose hit responded with a three-point field goal. Junior Tony DeWitte (Grandville, Mich./Calvin Christian) answered with a triple of his own before Illinois Wesleyan staged an 11-point run to lead 24-12 as the midpoint of the half neared.
Calvin struggled to contain the Titans' hot offense as they hit their fourth three-pointer to lead 29-14 with eight minutes left in the half. The two teams exchanged points for the next three minutes until the Knights staged a nine-point run to cut the deficit to six and force a Titans timeout. Out of the break, Walter connected for a three-pointer to make the score 33-30, but Illinois Wesleyan responded with a triple for the Titans. Bykerk put in a layup for the last bucket of the half, but the visitors headed into the locker room with a 36-32 advantage.
Illinois Wesleyan widened its lead to twelve in the first six minutes of the second half. Calvin came back with seven straight points, five coming from Bykerk, to trail 51-46. The Titans held their lead, but the Knights remained within six points with just over seven minutes remaining.
Shymanski hit a timely jumper to make the score 56-52, with 5:45 left to play. The Titans earned back their six-point lead, but Walter sunk a big three to make it a three-point game with three-and-a-half minutes left on the clock. After a Illinois Wesleyan timeout and buckets on both ends, both teams' defenses stepped up for over a minute of no scoring. With one-and-a-half minutes left, sophomore Emmet Warners (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian) drew a foul in the backcourt and knocked down two free throws to bring the Knights within one point, the scoreboard reading 62-61.
The Titans hit two free throws of their own, and Calvin regained possession as the one-minute mark approached. Bykerk was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit the front end of the one-and-one bonus. Illinois Wesleyan's Brady Rose came back and hit a jump shot to give the Titans a 68-62 advantage with sixteen seconds remaining. Calvin was unable to convert in the final seconds and the Titans claimed a 68-62 victory.
The Knights are back in action tomorrow, Saturday, when they host No. 3 Augustana (Ill.). Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.