GALESBURG, Illinois - The Knox Prairie Fire men’s basketball team was victorious this Tuesday against the Grinnell College Pioneers, winning by a final score of 84-80. The win, their first victory in Midwest Conference play, puts their record for the season at 3-2 and breaks a five game losing streak to the Pioneers.
The first half saw Knox struggle to adjust to the “Grinnell System”, the Pioneers’ fast-paced offensive system. Despite shooting 48% from the floor, the Prairie Fire saw far less possessions than Grinnell, neutralizing their efficient offensive performance. The Pioneers also continued to bury 3-point shots, widening the scoring gap between the teams. Jordan Rayner put on a show for the home crowd, though, scoring 11 of his 20 points in the half while making smart passes and bringing the team together. Raphael Jalnaiz also contributed some solid minutes, and it was these performances and more that held Grinnell’s lead to only 9 points when the halftime buzzer sounded.
Coming out of the locker room, it was clear that head coach Ben Davis had made the necessary adjustments to counter the Pioneers and their shooting performance. The Prairie Fire were able to get to the charity stripe 21 times in the second half, helping them close the scoring gap. In addition, Knox’s defense held their ground and reduced the shooting efficiency of the Pioneers, giving the Prairie Fire a chance to close the deficit and eventually overtake Grinnell. Both Cade Windham and Cade Faber tallied double-doubles for Knox, as well, and the team managed to maintain their slim lead throughout the end of the half.
Rayner led Knox with 20 points. Faber added 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Windham chipped in 12 points and 11 boards. Duane Goodman, Jr. also tallied 11 points.
"We really executed our game plan all day," said Davis. "We really stepped it up a notch in the second half. We forced Grinnell to slow down a bit and took advantage of the opportunities they gave us. This was a great way to begin conference play, but we have a long season so we will get back to work."
Knox will attempt to win again when they play host to Principia College this Saturday at 3:00 p.m.