Isabel Pheifer—Staff Writer
The Dordt University men’s and women’s basketball teams traveled to Orange City on Feb. 16 to take on their crosstown rival, the Northwestern Red Raiders. The Bultman Center packed full on a Wednesday night and saw a split between its attendant who sported Defender black and gold and Raider red.
“The atmosphere at Northwestern was outstanding. We enjoyed playing in front of a big crowd,” said Brian Van Haaften, head coach for the Dordt men’s team.
The night started with the women’s game, with the Raiders attempting to snap the Defenders’ 15-game win streak. The Defenders jumped out to an early 18-5 lead. The hot start was aided by 14 first quarter points from junior forward Ashtyn Veerbeek. The Raiders ended the first quarter on a run that cut the Defender lead to 8.
The second quarter went in favor of the Raiders. A strong defensive effort from Northwestern left the Defenders rattled, who scored 8 second quarter points.
In the middle of the quarter, Northwestern went on a 10-0 run, which put them up 33-29.
With two minutes left in the half, junior forward Karly Gustafson ended Dordt’s scoring drought with a bucket. The Raiders then closed the half out with two back-to-back baskets and extended their lead to 37-31.
Starting the second half, both teams came out blazing. They traded baskets before the Raiders pulled away at the midpoint of the quarter to grab a 9-point lead at 50-41. The Defenders refused to cave, responding with three straight baskets of their own, cutting the lead to 3.
Northwestern then put in two more buckets before the end of the third, making it 55-47.
The Defenders were never able to overcome the deficit in the fourth quarter. Despite a strong effort from Veerbeek, scoring 8 points in the frame, it wasn’t enough. The final buzzer showed Northwestern winning 72-62.
Dordt was led by Veerbeek, who was just shy of recording a triple double with 28 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 blocked shots. Junior guard Bailey Beckman added 11 points of her own and freshmen Hayden Heimensen and Janie Schoonhoven each scored 6 points.
For the Raiders, Devyn Kemble dropped a team-high 17 points and Maddie Jones followed with 16.
This was the first loss for the Defender women’s team since Dec.11 and split the series between the two GPAC teams for the season. The Dordt women finish the regular season with the second-best record in the conference.
“Our women have worked extremely hard to put themselves in this position,” said Bill Harmsen, head coach for the Dordt women’s team.
Following the women, the Dordt men looked to steal a win from the Raiders. The game proved nothing short of exciting. Both teams shot nearly 50 percent from the field in the first half and traded baskets early on.
Eventually, the 3-point shooting made the difference as the Defenders shot a mere 16 percent from deep and the Raiders rained it down for 40 percent.
Late in the half, the Raiders were able to capitalize on the poor shooting by Dordt and build a lead which accumulated to 8 at three different times.
Despite the poor 3-point shooting for the Defenders, freshman guard Luke Rankin scored 10 points in the first half to keep the Defenders within striking distance. Going into halftime, the scoreboard showed the Raiders up 40-32.
The lead for the Raiders extended to 44-34 at the beginning of the second half, but after that, the Defenders caught fire, making five 3-pointers on five straight possessions. Junior forward Cade Bleeker and sophomore guard Bryce Coppock made two of these five, putting Dordt on top for the first time of the game at 51-50.
For the remainder of the game, neither team took a commanding lead. There were nine lead changes and four ties within the final 13 minutes of the game. With four minutes to play, the game was tied at 72.
After a few more traded buckets, the Raiders made a crucial 3-pointer and took the lead at 80-76. Senior guard Caleb Harmsen then got an offensive rebound and made a layup with 21 seconds left in the game to get the Defenders back within two. Northwestern then had a potentially disastrous turnover, but Dordt was not able to capitalize on the mistake and had their game-winning 3-point shot fall short.
“The game did not turn out like we wanted, but we played well and competed very well,” Van Haaften said.
Dordt had a very balanced scoring attack. Coppock led Dordt with 17 points and 6 rebounds. Rankin added 14 points and 4 assists. Harmsen and Bleeker each contributed 13 points and Bleeker pulled down 6 boards. Sophomore forward Jacob Vis neared a double-double, scoring 8 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. The loss gave Northwestern the sweep over Dordt for the season.
“When you get to this time of year, a coach’s insight is very minimal,” said Van Haaften. “We just keep encouraging them and make a few adjustments for each team.”
After a pair of wins against Jamestown to close out their season, the women ended with a conference record of 16-6 and the men 12-8.
“We look forward to representing Dordt in the GPAC tournament and hope Defender Nation shows up to support our team,” Harmsen said.