Both NW Basketball teams advance to GPAC Semifinal round

February 25, 2021 9:11am

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Alex Van Kalsbeek netted a game-high 32 points in leading No.23 Northwestern to an 83-77 win over Briar Cliff in a GPAC men's basketball semifinal played tonight at the Bultman Center.

Northwestern extends its win streak to 11 games and puts the Raiders into the semifinals against the University of Jamestown on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 3pm. Northwestern improves to 21-5 on the season.

Van Kalsbeek converted on 14-of-16 field goal attempts en route to his second 30-point effort of the season. The freshman dished out five assists and pulled down six rebounds. All five Northwestern starters were in double figures.

Head Coach Kris Korver's squad overcame a slow start that put the hosts down 23-10 after the first six minutes, forcing a timeout. Briar Cliff made good on its first eight field goal attempts, including six three-pointers, two each by Jaden Kleinhesselink and Quinn Vesey. Northwestern stormed back, outscoring the Chargers 20-4 over an eight-minute stretch, led by Van Kalsbeek and Trent Hilbrands who combined for 16 points during the run, to put the hosts in front 30-27. The Raiders led by two, 43-41, at the break.

Northwestern never trailed over the final half but was unable to pull away against the determined Chargers, who tied the score at both 55 and again at 59 with 10 minutes left to go. With Northwestern clinging to a one-point lead (70-69) at the 4:40 mark, Jay Small drained a long three-pointer with the shot clock winding down and a pair of free throws by Van Kalsbeek pushed the lead to six. Still a one possession game with 1:20 left, Van Kalsbeek and Craig Sterk scored back-to-back baskets, the final on a break-away dunk, to clinch it for Korver's squad.

Northwestern shot 52% from the field, 33% (7/21) from the arc; Hilbrands (13pts), Small (12pts), Sterk (11pts) and Heyer (10pts) all scored in double figures. Sterk, the reigning GPAC and NAIA Player of the Week, ripped down 12 rebounds for his second straight double-double.

Briar Cliff shot 46% and was led by Jaden Kleinhesselink and Quinten Vasa with 21 and 19 points, respectively. The Chargers finish the season with a 12-14 record.


The Northwestern College women's basketball team outscored Midland by 20 in the second half in earning a gritty 76-54 home win in a GPAC Quarterfinal played tonight at the Bultman Center.

The victory propels the No.3 seeded Raiders into Saturday's semifinal against No.2 Concordia; Northwestern moves on with a 17-9 record while Midland's season ends at 15-11.

Leading by just two (27-25) after a low scoring first half where both team's defenses shined, Northwestern outscored the Warriors 49-29 over the final 20 minutes and pulled away in the fourth quarter. Back-to-back three-pointers by Sammy Blum triggered a 9-0 run to put the host Raiders in front by 10, 38-28. A lay-up from Alexis Toering on a run out after a missed jumper by Midland put the Northwestern lead at 12 moments later until Midland rallied to get within five late in the period (49-44). A Deyvyn Kemble three-pointer and lay-up by Maddie Jones at quarters end put the hosts back in front by 10, 54-44.

The fourth quarter belonged to the home team as Northwestern outscored Midland 22-10, holding the Warriors to just two field goals over the final 10 minutes. A basket by Molly Schany with 2:50 left gave the hosts their first 20-point lead (73-53).

Northwestern overcame a tough shooting first half (33%), going 50% over the final 20 minutes and 42% for the game. They converted on 6-of-15 three-point attempts, led by Blum with five three's leading to a game-high 21 points. Molly Schany scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half and Alexis Toering chipped in season-high 10 points to go with seven rebounds.

The Raiders finished with a 48-43 edge on the boards after a large deficit at halftime; Taylor VanderVelde led the way with nine boards and also dished out four assists.

Midland shot 28% for the game and was led by Lexis Haase with 12 points.