PITTSBURGH (WOOD) — The Hope College women’s basketball team cut the nets Saturday as it earned the NCAA Division III tournament national championship title.

The Flying Dutch won the championship 71-58 over Wisconsin-Whitewater, becoming the first DIII women’s basketball champion crowned since 2019.

COVID-19 halted Hope’s chances at an NCAA Tournament run for two-straight seasons, but the Flying Dutch finally proved they can end their season holding the big trophy. 

“It feels better than I thought it was going to feel,” head coach Brian Morehouse said after the win. “It makes you wonder what the two years before could’ve been because we’ve been pretty good.” 

This is the third national title in the program’s history.

Getting to this stage is a big reason fifth-year seniors Sydney Muller, Olivia Voskuil and Kenedy Schoonveld decided to stick around for an extra season. Their mission is now complete, with the Dutch winning 77 of their last 78 games on their way to the championship. 

“It’s been the best ride. To win the national championship is something that I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid,” Schoonveld said. “…I watched the ’06 team do it and the 2010 team go to the Final Four, so it means the world for me to be here and to hopefully leave my mark on the program so they can continue their success.” 

This was a true team effort from top to bottom. Hope went on a 15-5 run to close out the game, with the Dutch outscoring the Wisconsin-Whitewater bench 29-2. Muller was named the tournament MVP, while Ella McKinney put up a career high 21 points.

“It really came true for me because I knew they had my back and I could go out there and play free and trust them and I knew that they trusted me,” McKinney said.

“This is our family and I’m so proud of every single one of them,” Muller said.

It was a special moment for Morehouse, who got to celebrate this win with his daughter, Meg Morehouse, and father, Dean Morehouse. Meg Morehouse is a junior on the team and Dean Morehouse is an assistant coach. The two were also there in 2006 when Brian Morehouse won his first national with Hope. Now, he’s headed back to Holland with his team as a two-time national champion coach.

— Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the day the championship game happened. We regret the error, which has been fixed.