RIPON, Wisconsin - The Prairie Fire women’s basketball team defeated Ripon 64-61 to win their first Midwest Conference (MWC) Tournament in program history. Knox will receive the league’s automatic qualifier into the NCAA Tournament next weekend, also a program first.
The Prairie Fire held a 16-10 lead after the first quarter, but the Redhawks used a 22-10 second period to take a 32-26 lead into halftime.
Knox trailed by 14 in the third quarter, but chipped away at the lead and tied the game up with 4:37 left to play. The Prairie Fire held a four point lead with 25 seconds left, but Ripon hit a three-pointer to bring the game within one. Kylee Callahan hit a pair of free throws to give Knox a three point lead with 11 seconds left to seal the victory.
Kristin Herndon led Knox with 16 points and 10 rebounds to pick up a double-double. Callahan also racked up 16 points. Catessa Duran tallied 11 points and Sophie Elstone added 10 points.
"The first thing I want to say is how much I love this team. They have embodied me from the start of the season and have had a chip on their shoulder," said head coach Kira Mowen. "Nobody believed we could do this, but all we did was grind! We busted our butts since early October to be the team we are today. Every player has a piece of this championship and they should all be proud of the sacrifices they have made for this team. I’m extremely proud of these young women who have marked a spot in Knox history for years to come. Thank you for all the fan support over the last three months you have made this journey for our team an unforgettable one. We aren’t done yet."
The Prairie Fire improved to 22-5 after a pair of wins in the MWC Tournament, breaking the previous Knox women’s basketball record of 18 wins.
Knox led the conference in scoring defense, only allowing 58.7 points per game. They also led the league in scoring margin (11.5), opponent field goal percentage (.339), rebounds per game (42.4), blocked shots per game (4.52), and assists per game (15.81).
The NCAA Tournament selection show will be broadcast on NCAA.com on Monday, February 27 at 1:30 p.m. at the link below: