Times are still tough for Knox College’s men’s basketball team (1-14, 1-7), as the Prairie Fire dropped their two most recent games.
Last Friday, Knox played host to the Carroll University Pioneers (11-5, 6-3) and lost to them by a score of 77-70. The Green Knights of St. Norbert College (14-1, 8-0), who are ranked No. 12 by D3hoops.com, came to the ‘Burg and defeated the Prairie Fire by a score of 56-45.
While both losses hurt, the team performed better than they had in other recent losses, making comeback runs in both games. Head Coach Rob Purlee said the Prairie Fire men “took better care of the ball,” and kept turnovers to a minimum against Carroll.
He also said that sophomore forward Joe Kozak “played great on offense,” which is heartening given star forward junior Matt Goedeke’s season-ending broken foot.
Kozak had 18 points in the game. Freshman Ian Horvath led Knox in scoring for the game with 21 points. Purlee also stressed that sophomore Jacob Lewis’s constantly improving performance was one of the keys to the team’s improvement over previous games.
The game against Midwest Conference leaders St. Norbert also showed improvements in the Prairie Fire’s play, as Knox’s defense was “as good as it’s ever been,” according to Purlee.
Knox also got solid performances from Horvath, who led the team in scoring with 11 points, sophomore transfer Tanner Carlson, who had a team-high seven assists, and freshman Lukas Shaw, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Unfortunately, despite excellent defense and an exciting run on offense, the Prairie Fire still fell to the Green Knights.
Knox will next look to beat rival Monmouth College on Saturday on Tim Heimann Court at 7:30 p.m.
The Prairie Fire women’s team (6-8, 2-6) rebounded over the past week going 1-1, with a 72-66 win against Carroll (9-7, 4-5) last Friday and a 65-51 loss to St. Norbert (11-3, 6-2) on Saturday, both at home.
Head Coach Emily Cline said that the team did “more of the little things right” against Carroll, one of which was free throws. Knox never trailed in the game and at one point in the first half led by as many as 16 points. However, turnovers and bad shots (according to Cline) by Knox during the second half allowed the Pioneers to pull to within two points during the final minute of the game.
Despite this, clutch free throw shooting by sophomore Lynn Mueller and junior Jenny Haskell put the win on lock for the Prairie Fire. The story of the game was told in rebounds, a statistic Knox bested Carroll in 48-22, with an offensive rebound score of 15-3 in favor of the Prairie Fire. Haskell led the Prairie Fire in scoring with 14 points, and senior Erin Novolio had 13.
The St. Norbert game was a different story, however, as the Fire women were bested. Cline said that unlike the game against Carroll, the Prairie Fire (especially the post-players) did not come through in the rebound department. She pointed out that Knox played poorly in the beginnings of both halves. In addition, turnovers, of which the Prairie Fire had 31, were a problem. Fatigue could have been a reason for Knox’s sloppy play, Cline said. Sophomore Kelly Ricketts led the scoring for the Prairie Fire, with nine points on four-of-six shooting.
The women hope to better last year’s win total on Saturday when they host the Fighting Scots of Monmouth College at 5:30 p.m.