August 22, 2012

Prairie Fire fall in high-scoring season finale

The Knox women’s basketball team walked off the parquet in Memorial Gymnasium on Feb. 18 for the last time this season. It was an emotional end for the team’s five seniors who had played their final game in purple and gold.

Knox (4-19, 4-14 MWC) fell to rival Monmouth College 118-102. Although their high-octane offense produced 100 points for the second straight game, the Fire ended the season on a seven game losing streak.

A brief ceremony was held after the game in recognition of seniors Lynn Mueller, Steph Nunez, Abby Owens, Kelly Ricketts and Krystyna Williams. Players were introduced beside their parents at half-court.

“The seniors made a huge impact on Knox women’s basketball both on and off the court,” Head Coach Emily Cline said.

“Krystyna and Kelly were both invaluable post players that scored and rebounded. Lynn was a great defensive player that really helped set the tone for us in our press, and Abby and Steph provided outside shooting and scrappiness,” she said.

Juniors Sara Johnson and Kristin McDonald led the Fire in scoring with 16 points each. Other contributors included freshmen Jodi Marver and Becky Duffy who finished with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Knox twice cut the Scots’ (14-9, 13-5 MWC) lead to 10 points the second half, but could not get any closer.

“The thing I’ll remember most is my teammates,” Mueller said. “I could not have asked for a better group of girls to work with every single day.”

She pointed to adversity her class faced during their tenure, but said it brought them closer as a unit. The team has finished a combined 20-49 since the 2009-10 season.

Owens, the MWC leader in three-point field goals, said long-range shooting is the part of the game she will miss the most.

“Basketball has always been the one thing I can count on to make me happy, no matter if I was having a good or bad game or practice,” she said. “It has a way of freeing a person’s mind and body, and that’s the part I love most.”

The Fire led the MWC in scoring and were second in the nation at 83.5 points per game, but they finished last in the conference in defense, surrendering 95.4 points per match. They led the MWC in steals per game, turnover margin and offensive rebounds.

Among their graduating seniors, Knox will seek to fill the gap left by Williams, their leading scorer and rebounder, who averaged 11.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

“This year was a transition year, and we didn’t quite know what to expect,” Johnson said. “It’s [going to be] a huge advantage having one year of the system under our belts.”

Matt McKinney
Matt McKinney is a senior majoring in creative writing and minoring in journalism. His experience with journalism ranges from a year as co-sports editor for TKS to an internship with the Chicago Sun-Times, where he used his Spanish language skills to report a front-page story on changes to federal immigration policy. He has also written for The Galesburg Register-Mail and Knox’s Office of Communications. Matt is the recipient of the 2012 Knox College Kimble Prize for Feature Journalism and two awards from the Illinois College Press Association, including a first place award for sports game coverage. He is currently interning virtually with The Tampa Bay Times and will pursue his master's next year at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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