The Prairie Fire women’s basketball team got double-digit point efforts from freshman Lynn Mueller and junior co-captain Kate Moon against Carroll University and St. Norbert College, respectively this past weekend, but continued its struggles in the turnover department in dropping two conference games in big ways. The Fire lost to the Pioneers 89-58 on Friday before dropping a 95-38 decision to the Green Knights on Saturday. The pair of losses drops the Fire to 4-12 overall and 1-8 in conference play — good for ninth place.
“The Midwest Conference is up in the air this year,” sophomore sharpshooter Amanda Sicoli said. “Monmouth beat Carroll by twenty points and we can compete with Monmouth. St. Norbert, while still being a strong team, is not as good this year as they have been in the past. Putting those things together with the fact that we have not been playing up to our potential, I think we went into both games expecting a good competition.”
Knox got off to a quick start against the Pioneers with a Mueller layup on a Sicoli assist just ten seconds into the game, but struggled for the next several minutes. A half-minute later, a Janelle Groer layup sparked a 15-4 Carroll run and the Pioneers never looked back. Knox went on a 9-2 run to end the first half, highlighted by three free throws from Moon, but Carroll still led 40-25 at halftime.
“During the first half they broke down our defense from the inside, so we packed it in for the second half,” Sicoli said. “Carroll, being the strong team that they are, came out shooting the lights out then.”
The Pioneers indeed shot the lights out to begin the second half. Carroll made eight of its first nine shots from the field, including two from behind the arc, to effectively put the game out of reach. Five minutes into the half, Carroll increased its lead to 19, 53-34, and squelched every effort the Fire threw at them for a comeback. Strong play by the Pioneer bench increased the lead even more down the stretch, and by the time the final buzzer sounded, Knox had lost by 31 points.
Leading the Fire in scoring, Mueller netted 16 points on 7-12 shooting. The guard also dished out five assists to lead all players. The Fire also got another near double-double performance from freshman Krystyna Williams (ten points, eight rebounds) and strong minutes off the bench from junior transfer Ali Hidden (eight points, three rebounds).
While the Carroll game was competitive at times, the game against St. Norbert was an entirely different story. Although Moon put up perhaps her best game of the season in the losing cause, the Fire committed 33 turnovers and forced just 13.
Knox again got off to a slow start against the Green Knights, who roared out of the starting gates on a 26-2 run. Knox played more competitively throughout the final ten minutes of the first half, and trailed 49-20 at the break.
St. Norbert came out hot again following the half and went on another sizzling 29-5 run to put out any hope the Fire may have had. The Knights’ dominance continued down the stretch, leading to the final score of 95-38.
“St. Norbert was an issue of running the offense,” Sicoli said. “We tend to shut down when teams play man to man against us.”
The Fire’s main bright spot came in the form of Moon’s ten points and six rebounds. Moon was the only Fire to score in double-figures and led the team in both scoring and rebounding. Fellow junior Erin Navolio scored nine, and Mueller added seven more in the losing effort.
“After a game like St. Norbert you learn that you can’t simply get off the bus and play with some of the teams in the Midwest Conference,” Sicoli said. “It was kind of a wake-up call, which in many respects was just what we needed. Monmouth is a totally winnable game, we just need to pull together all of the aspects of our game from the start. Against Carroll we played some really good minutes. Now we just need to be able to put 40 of those minutes together and we’ll be back on track.”
The Fire return to action this Saturday night in an away game at Monmouth College. Tip time is 5:30 p.m.