The Knox College Prairie Fire women’s basketball team (6-9, 4-6 MWC) completed a season sweep of the Lawrence University Vikings (1-14, 0-10 MWC) with a dominating 90-54 win last Saturday. Knox has now won two of their last three Midwest Conference games.
After losing to Carroll University the previous weekend, the Fire were itching to get this victory under their belts.
“As a team, we came into that game excited and ready to get a win. Once we settled down and got our defense going [in the first half], we just kept feeding off of each other’s energy,” junior Chantal Heckman said.
Early on, the Vikings matched the Prairie Fire’s energy as the two teams battled for five lead changes and two ties, leaving the score 22-20 with 7:24 remaining.
As the Vikings began to put more pressure defense on Knox’s outside shooters, it allowed easier passes inside the paint and opened driving lanes for the team’s point guards, senior Kristin McDonald and sophomore Becky Duffy.
Knox closed the half on a 19-7 run, including a rare four-point play from sophomore Jodi Marver at the very end of the half. Marver connected on a deep three-point shot while being fouled and nailed a free throw to complete the four-point play and give the Prairie Fire a commanding 41-27 lead at halftime.
“Our team always does best when everyone is working together and communicating well,” Marver said. “Once we start going on a run during games, it really hypes everyone up and we continue to keep doing well from there on. It’s really just a mixture of hustling on the court and talking from the bench. Every single person on the team is an attribute to keeping our energy up throughout the entire game.”
Marver connected on all eight of her free throws in the first half, and the Prairie Fire outscored Lawrence 14 to one from the line.
In the second half, Knox would extend their lead even further, outscoring the Vikings 49-27.
“We played a really good, strong second half. We took the game over and hit more shots. We dominated the second half,” head coach Emily Cline said. “Our offense is predicated on three-point shooting and driving; it depends on how the other team defends us [and] which one is open. Lawrence did a good job of taking away our three-point opportunities, so we were forced to drive, which created a lot of scoring opportunities.”
Marver led the team in scoring with 22 points on six of eight shooting and finished nine of 10 from the free throw line.
Heckman scored a season and career high 15 points on five of seven shooting. Typically a role player, Heckman embraced her opportunities to score.
“I was just listening to my teammates and Coach Cline, who kept telling me to shoot when I was open. My teammates gave me great passes and contributed a lot to me being able to get open so that I could shoot,” Heckman said. “Everyone is a threat on the team. I just happened to be one of the people who hit a few 3s that night.”
“Chantal had a great game. She is key to our success because she makes things happen on both ends of the court. She’s the utility player that makes us a lot better,” Cline said.
Wednesday, the women took on Cornell College, the number one team in the conference this season. The Rams suffered their first loss of the season earlier and the week and enacted their vengence on the Prairie Fire with a 106-66 win.
Marver led Knox with 11 points while fresman Alycia Webster added 10 points.
Knox shot just 15.9 percent from three point range in the game, managing just over 28 percent overall.
Knox looks to rebound with another home game against St. Norbert College. Knox will be looking to get back to back home victories.
Tipoff is set for this Saturday, Jan. 26 at 1 p.m. in Memorial Gym.