‘Intentionality’: How Hope women’s basketball earned 60 straight wins

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The final buzzer sounded and it was a familiar scene for Brian Morehouse’s Hope women’s basketball team.

Another more-than-comfortable win, 96-31 over Olivet Monday, pushing the 2021-22 Flying Dutch to a 15-0 record and a firm hold on the No. 1 ranking in NCAA Division III basketball.

It was the 60th consecutive time Hope earned a victory. It was the 60th consecutive time Brian Morehouse could take a deep breath, relax and clap his team off the floor. It was the 60th consecutive time there was a locker room celebration.

The winning streak has become normal in Holland.

What Hope has earned is the longest active winning streak at any level of NCAA college basketball, men or women. The longest active streak in Division I is 15, for comparison. The Flying Dutch finished with unblemished resumes in the past two campaigns and have a three-peat in their crosshairs.

Hope women’s basketball and head coach Brian Morehouse in the huddle on Jan. 17, 2022. (Andrew McDonald/WOOD TV8)

Morehouse doesn’t try to look too deep into it and neither does the team.

Instead, what sticks in his mind is the last time his team lost.

“I can tell you exactly where I was when things changed for us,” Morehouse said. “We were at Wartburg in the NCAA Tournament. We had just lost by 25-30 points, probably the worst loss in my coaching career. When we got back to the hotel room that night, the coaches and myself didn’t sleep. We went over what happened and made a decision that some things needed to change.

“We weren’t broke, we just needed to be more intentional.”

By “more intentional,” Morehouse meant the team had to take it on themselves to play for each other and develop skills and relationships on and off the hardwood.

The result? Not an athlete or coach has experienced that feeling of defeat since the 79-49 loss in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2018-19. Instead, it’s his teams dishing out the punishment to everyone else. In the 2019-20 season, Hope steamrolled all of its competition to the Sweet 16.

That’s when Hope found its first adversity since that loss, only this time the cause was out of its control. It was a pandemic. COVID-19 brought many challenges, stopping the Flying Dutch in their tracks. The NCAA Tournament was canceled in 2019-20 and wasn’t held the following season.

Senior guard Kenedy Schoonveld has been through it all, yet she and her teammates never quit. They just won the games in front of them, including back-to-back MIAA Tournament championships.

“We got no closure at all with the Sweet 16 and just got sent home, that was probably the toughest,” Schoonveld said. “We had a lot of seniors graduate without another shot at the NCAA Tournament. That adversity we went through has only made us stronger in the long run.

“With a team like this and a coach like (Morehouse) who builds relationships with us on and off the court, it translates to how we play on the court. It’s a family atmosphere.”

The family part is literal for Morehouse. His daughter Meg Morehouse is a junior who plays a key role in the Flying Dutch’s success, averaging 15.3 minutes per game off the bench and scoring 5.7 points, 1.6 assists and 1.6 steals per night.

Playing for her dad has always been a dream of Meg Morehouse’s and there’s nowhere else she would rather do it.

“My freshman year we worked through a couple things, but it’s something I look forward to every day,” Meg Morehouse said. “It’s not just me who feels that way, though. I feel like the entire team can come to him with anything: basketball, school or outside of here. It’s helped get us where we are.”

As the victories add up, so does the pressure from the outside looking in. Hope has made a name for its woman’s basketball program, which has received national attention, not just statewide.

While that is a good thing, it takes a tough group to handle it. Morehouse has no doubt toughness is a quality of his players.

“This group is resilient. When you look at all of the COVID stuff it had to overcome and how it stays focused on the team itself intentionally,” coach Morehouse said. “Internally, this team doesn’t focus on a streak, it focuses on the next game. It’s great to get Hope college the recognition for the great institution it is, but it’s what makes the Hope College student tick: winning.”

NCAA Hoops, Sports

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