By: Clark Shanahan
GALESBURG, Illinois - The Knox Prairie Fire men’s basketball team broke their three game losing streak by beating the Monmouth College Fighting Scots 87-77 this Wednesday. Knox earned the season sweep over Monmouth for the first time since the 2005-06 season. After today’s victory, the Prairie Fire hold a 6-13 record on the season, with a 3-9 record in Midwest Conference play.
Knox’s guards put pressure on the Fighting Scots early, as they drove and dashed their way to the rim for plenty of easy points. Jordan Rayner and Giannis Tsahageas led the way for the Prairie Fire, as they scored a combined 41 points throughout the game, with both of them also providing excellent defense and terrific leadership on the court. The Prairie Fire shot 51.85% as a team on the court in the first half, as their chemistry that they had developed throughout the season paid off. On the defensive side, Knox struggled to stop Monmouth’s three-point barrage, as the Fighting Scots made 7-of-12 shots from beyond the arc. As a result, the Prairie Fire entered the half down by six points.
Not to be discouraged, Knox took over in the paint on both ends of the floor in an effort to fight their way back into the game. The team shot an incredible 18-for-25 in the second half, and the Prairie Fire bench played an important role in contributing to this shooting display. Raphael Jalnaiz, for example, put together a valuable seven points for the Prairie Fire, with many of those coming in crunch time. Knox used their excellent free throw shooting on the day to pull ahead of Monmouth, and as the final minutes counted down they used their defense to strangle any Fighting Scot scoring runs, propelling them to their eventual 10 point victory.
"Monmouth really came at us in the first half," said head coach Ben Davis. "We adjusted at halftime and were able to execute our game. It's always great to beat Monmouth, even better when it's at home for a season sweep!"
Knox will attempt to win back to back games when they travel to Beloit this Saturday to play the Buccaneers at 1:00 p.m.