The Knox College women’s basketball team was denied back-to-back conference victories as they suffered a tough 89-77 loss to Carroll University (7-5, 6-3 MWC) team last Saturday, Jan. 12 at Memorial Gym.
Coming off a road victory against Illinois College, the Prairie Fire were looking to come out strong against the Pioneers. Freshman Alycia Webster proved to be the spark for the Prairie Fire offense early in the game, as she scored six of the team’s first 18 points.
“[Webster] is a vital player to our team this year and she has a huge role as a freshman,” sophomore guard Jodi Marver said. “Last year, we graduated two of our best post players, so she had some big shoes to fill.”
Webster’s presence inside kept the Prairie Fire in the game, as the team shot just 1-17 from three point range in the first half. Her energy carried over to the defensive end, which helped Knox contain the Pioneers screen-and-roll offense.
Knox’s transition defense was also key to keeping the Prairie Fire close in a first half that featured 10 lead changes.
“Our team [was] excellent with communicating, and the back of our press succeeded in making Carroll second guess their fast break game,” Marver said.
But in the last four minutes, the pace accelerated, and a six- point Prairie Fire lead turned into a two-point halftime advantage for the Pioneers.
The second half began with multiple empty possessions by both teams, and eventually the shooting woes caught up with the Prairie Fire. Knox, which leads the MWC by connecting on an average of nine three pointers a game, finished with just four against the Pioneers.
“We weren’t hitting a lot of our shots, so it was hard for us to get back in our groove,” Webster said.
Knox also started to break down defensively in the second half, as Carroll was able to get easy layups in their half-court offense. The Prairie Fire would get no closer than 50-49 midway through the second half, and the Pioneers would stretch their lead to as many as 14 points before it was over.
Webster led the Fire in scoring with 17 points and eight rebounds.
While it took awhile to understand the intricacies of the system offense, Webster’s aggressive play has helped her become more comfortable as the season has progressed.
“Throughout the season, it has been a struggle for me to adjust to this new way of playing, but now it is finally starting to sink in and I see where I fit,” Webster said.
Marver finished with 15 points, while sophomore guard Becky Duffy finished with 10 points and nine rebounds. Carroll finished with three double digit scorers, including 28 points from Mallory Christenson.
Knox (5-9, 3-6 MWC) is now just 1-7 in home games, but looks to rebound from the loss this weekend against Lawrence University, whom the Prairie Fire beat 90-79 back in December.
The Prairie Fire are looking to Duffy and senior guard Kristen McDonald to once again lead them to victory.
“[Duffy and McDonald] did a great job of pressuring Lawrence’s defense with their drives to the basket and ability to make solid passes. [They] really had a hard time stopping us offensively,” said Marver.
The game is schedule for a 1 p.m. tip off this Saturday, Jan. 19 at Memorial Gym.