Ripon Wins Nailbiter Against Knox In Conference Opener

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RIPON, Wis. - Ripon's men's basketball team had their work cut out for them Friday night against a Knox College team that simply would not go away. In a game that featured seven ties and 11 lead changes, the Red Hawks came out on top, narrowly winning 84-80 to earn their 18th consecutive win against the Prairie Fire. Both teams finished the game shooting 52 percent from the field and 46 percent from 3-point range.

Knox (1-5, 0-1 MWC) scored the first four points of the game, but Ripon scored the next five to take their first lead of the night. The two teams then played evenly for the next several minutes with Ripon holding a 20-19 advantage mid-way through the first half. The Red Hawks then took command of the game with an 11-2 run, taking the first double-digit lead of the night on a 3-pointer by Freshman Ryan Steffes with seven minutes to play before halftime. Ripon would head into intermission leading 44-33.

Ripon (3-1, 1-0 MWC) continued to lead by double digits in the second half, until a 14-3 run by Knox tied the score at 65 with eight minutes remaining. That tie was promptly broken by a layup from Ripon's Trent Jones, but Knox answered with a 3-pointer from Jaelon Brooks to take their first lead since the 13-minute mark of the first half. The lead would change hands several times in the next few minutes, with Knox taking a four-point lead on a 3-pointer by Deryk Ruple with under four minutes to play. Cal Schultz then scored a basket on each of Ripon's next two possessions to tie the score at 80 with one and a half minutes on the clock. After a defensive stand, Beau Cary was fouled on Ripon's next possession and he would sink both of his free throws with 16 seconds left to give Ripon the lead for good.

Schultz led Ripon with 30 points, one game after scoring a career-high 31. He shot 11-of-15 from the field Friday night, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range and 4-of-4 from the free throw line, while also tying a career-high with four assists. Jones added 15 points, six rebounds, and seven assists, while Steffes finished with a career-high 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range.

Knox was led by Jordan Rayner's 18 points off the bench, which included a 4-for-5 performance from 3-point range, and five assists. Ruple added 16 points and five assists, while Blake Godbold and Justin Windt each scored 12 points.

Ripon will be in action again on Saturday when they'll host Illinois College at Weiske Gymnasium. That game will begin at 3 p.m., and can be seen live at