The Alma College Men's Basketball team entered their MIAA opener at Hope College on Thursday night optimistic of their chances and they proved to be right. The Scots led for 30 minutes of the game, but a cold spell midway through the second half doomed their upset bid and the Flying Dutchmen were able to come away with the 83-69 victory.
With the loss, Alma is now 5-7 overall this season and 0-1 in the MIAA, while Hope improved their 2012-13 mark to 6-6 and 1-0 in the MIAA.
"The first half we were mentally tough and really attacked them and our energy on both sides was great," remarked Alma Head Coach Sam Hargraves. "We got really good looks at the basket and we could have even made a higher percentage. Then we had a nine minute stretch in the second half where our mental toughness was gone.
"We only scored five points during it because we quit attacking and settled. We let our offense dictate our defense and we did not match their energy and toughness. We will learn from the experience and continue to get better."
Jr. F Isiah Law (Grand Haven, Mich./Grand Haven) put the Scots ahead 3-0 on a three-point basket at the 19:35 mark and the visitors would not trail at any point in the first half. Hope stayed close throughout but the Scots increased their advantage to 10 at 34-24 on a Law jumper with 6:19 left in the frame.
Hope cut the lead to four at one point in the final minutes, but the Scots responded and walked off the court with an impressive 45-38 halftime lead. Law scored 16 points in the first 20 minutes and Jr. F Jake Murawske (Harbor Beach, Mich./Harbor Beach) added 12 on four of four shooting from beyond the three-point arc.
The second half began much like the first and the Scots were able to maintain their lead as they led 50-44 with 17:04 left after a three-point play by Jr. G Brandon Krause (Sanford, Mich./Meridian). Alma had a 55-50 advantage at the 12:09 mark on a three-pointer by Murawske and things still looked good. Then, the wheels came off.
Over the next 6:50 of the contest, the Flying Dutchmen went on a 20-2 run and held a 70-57 lead with 5:19 remaining in the game. They extended their lead to 16 points two different times and Alma was just not able to recover and make a run at the home team. With that being the case, Hope methodically closed out the 83-69 win.
As a team, the Scots shot 53% (16 of 30) in the first half, but just 27% (seven of 26) in the final 20 minutes. Law paced the team with 21 points and had five rebounds, while Murawske tallied 16 points with five three-pointers. Krause had a team-high five assists to go with 12 points in the defeat.
The Scots return to MIAA action on Saturday afternoon, when they host Trine University at Art Smith Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.