30 points was all he needed. 30 points was all he got. The record has fallen.
Kyle Steigenga scored the 30 points he needed to reach 2,859 in his career breaking the Michigan collegiate career scoring record as the Cornerstone Golden Eagles pulled away late for a 75-59 win over in-town rival Aquinas Saints.
The 6-foot-6 forward from Holland Christian HS, entered the night with 2,829 and had just 11 points at halftime as Aquinas stayed within striking distance of the Golden Eagles.
In the second half, needing just 19 points, Steigenga helped grow the lead to double-digits and found himself on the verge of tying the record.
Needing just three more points to break the record with 5:43 left in the game, the Golden Eagles dedicated their efforts to keeping the lead (71-53) and making sure Steigenga had enough chances to finish the night on top of the record previously held by former Davenport Panthers forward Dominez Burnett.
5:43 remaining: Steigenga inbounds to Christian Rodriguez who dribbles left into a handoff back to Stegs who takes one dribble, steps back into a three-pointer which misses and Sam Vander Sluis is called for an offensive foul while rebounding.
5:07 remaining: Steigenga is fouled after an Aquinas miss and heads to the other end for a 1 & 1 free throw and proceeds to miss the front end. The ball rebounds off Cornerstone then rolls out of bounds. Aquinas ball.
4:27 remaining: Steigenga gets ball off the right block and drives left into lane with contact. Shot misses short, no foul called to the crowd and broadcaster’s dismay.
3:43 remaining: Ball swings around and finds Steigenga in the right corner where he’s fouled making his first step toward the basket. Aquinas’ 10th foul, two free throws. With a chance to tie, misses the first and makes the second. Now within one point of tying record.
3:08 remaining: Steigenga drives to the lane on the right elbow and gets blocked trying to go to the rim.
2:18 remaining: Kyle takes an 18-foot jumper form the left baseline that majestically floats into the hands of Vander Sluis, who quickly finds Stegs under the basket for an easy bucket off the left glass. The crowd went nuts. CU gets a quick timeout to recognize the achievement.
1:28 remaining: Stegs exits with a Michigan State career collegiate record of 2,859 points. The crowd again responds with triumphant joy for Steigenga and the team, whose freshmen entered the game for the final moments.
— Stone Zone (@CUStoneZone) February 8, 2018
With the Cornerstone and Michigan scoring records now in his possession, Steigenga and the Golden Eagles can maintain their focus on finishing the WHAC in first-place, getting ready to host the conference tournament and preparing for the NAIA D-2 Tournament in Sioux Falls, SD.
But not all the records have fallen.
Steigenga finished the night with only 3 rebounds, leaving him 101 behind the school’s all-time leader, Jim Eppink’s 1,231. With only three more regular season games and a possible eight more in tourney play (WHAC-3, NAIA-5), Steigenga will have to average nearly 10 rebounds per game (1.4 rpg more than his season average) and help CU make the finals in both tournaments.
It’s possible to achieve, but’s there’s a BIG problem in the way. Steigenga’s massive front court running mate, Sam Vander Sluis. And even if Steigenga breaks the rebound record this season, Vander Sluis is closing in on it himself.
@SluisNDice, as he’s known on Twitter, owns the glass in the WHAC. He’s averaging 12.4 rebounds per game this season and is already 8th in CU’s record books. Pulling down 17 more boards tonight puts Vander Sluis at 849 for his career, less than 400 off Epping’s total (which he set when the school was known as GR baptist College). He’s only 54 behind the 903 rebounds Steigenga had in his first three seasons and there are games left on the schedule (as mentioned above, possibly 11). At his current pace, he’d reach 985 by season’s end if the Golden Eagels reach both tourney finals.
Whatever happens to finish out this season, we know the 2018-19 season is going to be another historic one to watch for Golden Eagles fans.
1: Jim Eppink
2: Kyle Steigenga
8: Sam Vander Sluis
photo credit: Holland Sentinel