It was a sour loss for Knox College women’s basketball team, which fell 93-89 to Lake Forest on Tuesday, Jan. 10. Despite leading for the majority of the game, the Prairie Fire squandered late opportunities to give the Foresters (5-5, 4-2 MWC) the win.
The Prairie Fire got off to a slow start, but battled to stay even with Lake Forest through the opening minutes of the first half. But soon the “system” went into full effect. Knox would force 25 Forester turnovers in the half, while making seven threes in the process.
When a three by senior Steph Nunez fell through the net at the first half buzzer, it closed a 19-8 run for the Prairie Fire, giving them a 47-36 halftime lead.
Knox continued the strong play into the second half, extending the lead to as many as 16 points with just over 13 minutes to play.
But when the shots stopped falling the gap closed. While in the first half Knox shot 35 percent from the field and three-point range, those numbers dropped to 27.8 percent and 25 percent respectively in the second half. The Prairie Fire also committed 32 turnovers in the game, and by the two minute mark the lead had been cut to three.
From that point on the Foresters outscored 11-4 points, sealing the victory with four consecutive free throws.
Leading the Prairie Fire in scoring were freshman Jodi Marver (14 points) and junior Kristin McDonald (12 points). McDonald and junior Sara Johnson each pulled down six rebounds to lead the Prairie Fire.
Unable to finish the job
The performance against Lake Forest was the sixth time Knox (1-9, 1-6 MWC) had led in the second half of game and come away with a loss. Head coach Emily Cline said the trend is the result of a “confidence issue,” and that “it really is a mental thing.”
“We don’t really have a go to player right now, and when the game is on the line you have to have somebody step up. It just hasn’t happened yet,” Cline said.
Mental mistakes aside, the Prairie Fire’s window of success will continue to be limited if the poor shooting percentages do not change. Heading into the Lake Forest game Knox was shooting just 31.7 percent from the field, and just 20.7 percent from the three-point line for the season. Both numbers are second worst in the league.
“We have to shoot better, no doubt about it,” Cline said.
Williams’ solid start
One of the bright spots for the Prairie Fire has been senior Krystyna Williams, whose 11.1 points per game is tenth in the MWC, while her eight rebounds per game put her third in the conference.
But coach Cline believes the senior has had success despite not playing to her full potential.
“She hasn’t been as consistent as we would like. She has played very well, but there is still room for her to do even more,” Cline said.