Ahooja ties MWC mark for 3-point accuracy in Grinnell win over IC

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JACKSONVILLE, Ill. - Down, but most definitely not out.

That was the case for the Grinnell College women's basketball team, as the Pioneers - with the aid of Sofia Ahooja's '22 school and Midwest Conference record - mounted a furious fourth-quarter rally to knock off Illinois College 57-52 Wednesday night. The Pioneers, 3-5 in the MWC and 5-9 overall, trailed by 11 early in the final period before going on a 22-6 run to close out the game.

Ahooja had her biggest game since arriving at Grinnell, setting a Pioneer record and tying a MWC mark for 3-point accuracy by going a perfect 5-of-5 while finishing with a career-high 18 points to go along with three assists and two steals. 

But it was far from a one-person show, as Tyria Heath '21 had 15 points and two blocks, Sasha Thomas '22 added 11 points and Daria Guzzo contributed 11 rebounds and a career-high three steals.

Grinnell built a 15-11 lead late in the first quarter before the hosts responded, taking a 20-15 edge by the end of the period and building that to 34-24 by halftime.

Illinois College, 2-6 in the MWC and 6-9 overall, went up by as many as 13 in the third period before holding a 45-35 cushion at its conclusion. After the Lady Blues got a free throw to open the fourth quarter, the Pioneers went to work in quick fashion.

Within a 2-½ minute span, Heath made two layups and a free throw and Ahooja drained two 3-pointers to bring Grinnell into a 46-all tie with 6:04 left in the game.

Illinois College then made a free throw, but Hanna Kessel '19 responded with a layup to give Grinnell its first lead in quite some time at 48-47. The Lady Blues followed with a 3-pointer to go up 50-48 before Ahooja hit a trio of free throws to push Grinnell ahead 51-50 at the 2:16 mark.

The Lady Blues went up with two free throws with 2:02 left, but Kessel was fouled at the 1:59 mark and calmly made both shots to put Grinnell ahead for good at 53-52. Grinnell defense came up big after that, forcing a pair of turnovers that included a steal by Guzzo. Guzzo was fouled with 24 seconds left and made the free throw, and Heath rebounded a miss on the second charity shot and was fouled. She made both, putting the Pioneers up 56-52.

Illinois College missed a 3-pointer after that and Kate Tomczik '22 hit a free throw to provide the final margin.

Grinnell returns to Darby Gymnasium Saturday when Lawrence University visits for a 1 p.m. matchup.