Senior Abby Owens was on fire Wednesday, Feb. 8, against Illinois College. The 5 foot 5 inch guard from Grinnell, IA hit seven of her 11 3-point attempts to finish with 21 points on the night. According to the Midwest Conference website, Owens’ performance from beyond the arc was good for third-best in MWC history.
“I wasn’t focused on scoring, but sometimes it just happens that you hit more shots,” Owens said. “My teammates did a really good job of getting me the ball.”
She was five-for-seven on threes in the first half, to go along with four steals in just 17-minutes of play.
“Abby had a great game,” head coach Emily Cline said. “I wish we would have gotten her the ball more the second half. They really stayed on her well.”
Other contributors included freshman guards Jodi Marver and Becky Duffy, who combined for 26 points on 9-for-20 shooting. Junior Kristin McDonald also had a solid night, finishing with 10 points, six assists and three steals.
But even with strong individual performances, the Fire fell to IC (8-12, 8-7 MWC) in the closing seconds, 103-95.
Knox (4-17, 4-12 MWC) pulled to within 92-91 with 54 seconds remaining on a jumper by senior Krystyna Williams, who contributed 13 points, five boards and two steals.
IC ended the game on an 11-4 run, with 11 of their final 14 points coming on free throws.
“It was definitely one you want to get back so you can finish better,” Cline said.
Knox went into halftime tied 44-44, largely due to the defensive prowess of junior Sara Johnson, who had five steals and two defensive rebounds.
Duffy said that close games like this one draw the team together.
“It was a little bit rougher early on. We made a few too many mistakes, but it came to a point where everyone was picking each other up,” she said. “But every game is a new game and we have to put [this one] behind us.”
Cline commended the resolve of her players even in the face of defeat.
“The effort was great. I was [definitely] proud of the effort. We had a lull in the beginning of the second half. That really came back to kill us. We just didn’t give ourselves a chance at the end.”
The game was part of the Midwest Conference’s month-long “Play for the Cure” initiative, which promotes cancer awareness. All proceeds from the game were donated to cancer research charities. Players from both teams wore pink “Play for the Cure” t-shirts in pre-game warm-ups.
Tough losses in Wisconsin
The game against IC came on the heels of a pair of hard-fought road losses over the weekend to Ripon and Carroll.
Knox fell to the Pioneers (9-10, 8-6 MWC) 98-71 on Friday, Feb. 3. Leading scorers on the night were led in scoring by McDonald and Owens, who put up 15 and 12 points, respectively. The Prairie Fire shot just 31.7 percent from the field. They hung tight with Carroll in the second half, being outscored just 45-41.
On Saturday, the Fire were defeated by Ripon (10-10, 9-6 MWC), 107-70. Ripon tied their single-game scoring record for their seventh straight win against Knox.
The Prairie Fire play Lake Forest on the road, Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 5:30 pm.