Coming off a come from behind win at Monmouth to break the longest losing streak in more than five years, the Prairie Fire were looking to keep the momentum up and make people realize they are more than afterthoughts.
The Prairie Fire (1-17, 1-10), while out of the playoff picture, were looking to escape the basement of the Midwest Conference, and maybe ruin Illinois College’s hopes at going to the tournament. At 5-5 in conference play and 8-9 overall, the Blue Boys are on the outside looking in, but a loss would have had them in dire straits.
“The first half was pretty tight,” noted Prairie Fire senior Zach Kirven. “We weren’t down by more than five or six.” As the old adage goes, live by the three, die by the three, and this time, the Fire were the victims in that battle. Knox shot 21-for-68 on the night, but from behind the arc that tally was 5-for-31. Any team missing that many shots, regardless of where, has a slim chance of winning.
Freshman sharpshooter Ben Wetherbee had 13 points, but on 4-for-18 shooting, including 3-for-13 from beyond the arc. The only bright spot came from sophomore Matt Geodeke, who did his best impression of Tim Duncan, scoring 22 points on 10-for-12 shooting and pulled in 13 rebounds.
“In the Monmouth game we relied on our post game,” Kirven said. “But we didn’t get the ball inside like we had been doing. Our perimeter defense wasn’t as good as it had been.”
The Fire were only down by five points going into the half. The game seemed in reach, but the Blue Boys offense, combined with some crippling shooting woes, extinguished the Fire. They were outscored 31 to 45 in the second half, with the final score falling at 81-62, killing the Fire’s new win streak at one.
Coming home on Friday will be nice for the Fire, as a friendly crowd anxious for more of the excitement it saw at Monmouth awaits them. With three home games in five days, the fans are ready, and the team has the chance to give them a show.