HOLLAND, Mich -- Hope forward Francesca Buchanan recently climbed to number two on the women's basketball program's all-time scoring list, but her contribution go well beyond points.
"I am the only senior" Buchanan said. "So that put a lot of pressure on me at the beginning of the season."
It didn't show, she helped the Flying Dutch get off to a 6-0 start to the season by averaging 16 points, 9 rebounds and shooing over 50 percent form the floor.
"I feel kind of special in a little bit of a way" Buchanan added. "My teammates make me feel special. It pushes me to play a little bit harder, play through every play and know that I play for my team and not just myself."
Her leadership has been crucial as Hope fields a young team with 6 talented sophomores in their rotation.
"They respect her so much because of how much she cares for them and takes care of them" 23-year head coach Brian Morehouse said. "I think the other big part is that she exemplifies how we want to play every single day in practice, she doesn`t take days off, she doesn`t take plays off and that feeds into what our freshman and sophomores need to learn."
Buchanan did not play AAU basketball in high school, which makes her unique. Her coach thinks thinks she had a turning point halfway through her career in Holland.
"I think a big part of her growth was the mission trip she went on after her sophomore year" Morehouse said. "It really made a difference in her confidence in herself and her ability to handle adversity and she then poured that back into her team in a big way."
Hope will embark on its 7th straight NCAA Tournament Friday night when the Flying Dutch (23-4) take on Wheaton College (22-5) in Waverly, Iowa at 6:30 p.m..