Going into this weekend’s Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame Classic against local rivals Calvin, Aquinas and Hope, the Cornerstone Golden Eagles are looking more like the perennial NAIA D-2 powerhouse they are after wins over Concordia and Siena Heights to open Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference play.
After losing the first two games of the season at the WHAC/CL Challenge, the Golden Eagles have run off six straight wins and are coming together on the defensive end of the floor. After giving up nearly 90 points in their first two games, Cornerstone’s defense has locked in and held opponents under 67 points in each of the next six games.
This past week, the Golden Eagles rode a 51-point second half to beat Concordia 87-65 in the conference opener and took home a 84-63 victory at Siena Heights to start WHAC play 2-0.
Against Concordia, Cornerstone built a 10-point halftime lead before exploding for 51 after the break, including leading by as many as 27 points. Kyle Steigenga led the Eagles with 28 points and Michael Bradshaw, Christian Rodriguez and Sam Vander Sluis all added double-digit points.
Coach Kim Elders told the media, “It is good to get a win in conference play. I thought we moved the ball extremely well and found the open look. Defensively we executed at times tonight which helped us pull away in the second half.”
Vander Sluis led the team with a monstrous effort of 29 points and 15 rebounds and Steigenga added 18 points and nine rebounds. Cornerstone nearly doubled the Saints’ rebounding effort, 37-19.
“Our focus was to pound the ball inside and get buckets from Sam and Kyle. We did not shoot the ball very well but found ways to separate ourselves”, Elders added about the Siena Heights matchup.
This weekend, Cornerstone will participate in the GR Sports Hall of Fame Classic at Aquinas College where they will play Hope College on Friday and Calvin College on Saturday. Both games are set to tip at 6 pm.