February 22, 2021 at 1:15pm
Dane Lisser

"My success doesn't just come from myself; it comes from my teammates."

The Millikin University Women's basketball team is off to a 7-3 start this season and a major contributor to the Big Blue's success has been the play of freshman Elyce Knudsen of Philo, Ill.

In the first few seconds of her first college basketball game, back on Jan. 23 against Carthage College, Knudsen made a 3-point shot. It was the first points for Millikin this season. Knudsen finished with 11 points, four rebounds and two assists in her first collegiate game. She followed up that performance with 29 points in her next game against Wheaton College.

"[Making that first shot] was exciting and obviously I was nervous, too. I feel like I've been put in this position for a reason, so it was exciting," Knudsen said in an interview with the Herald & Review. "I love these girls and I love our team chemistry. My success doesn't just come from myself; it comes from my teammates. They are putting in the work that makes me better, too."

Elyce Knudsen Millikin University

Knudsen's early success led to two straight College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) Women's Basketball Player of the Week honors.

Knudsen had 23 points, five rebounds, four assists and five steals during a 90-82 road win over Illinois Wesleyan on Feb. 4. She added 13 points, five rebounds, two assists and one steal in a 73-51 win at Carthage on Feb. 6.

"She is going to open some eyes and then people are really going to be impressed," said Millikin head coach Olivia Lett. "Just watching her handle the basketball, people immediately realize that she's a little bit different in that way. Then they were able to see her scoring ability up at Wheaton and the ease at which she can get shots."

Lett added, "Early on, we had to convince her [Knudsen] that she needed to take more shots. She wanted to be a passer and she didn't want to be a ball hog. We needed to explain that people can't get the same shots that she can. It will open up shots for her teammates and I think that she has really bought into that. If she goes off, now all of a sudden 3s are open for other people, the lane is open and then she can be a distributor. She has to be score-first for opportunities to open up for other people."

While playing at Tolono Unity, Knudsen became the Rockets' all-time leading scorer with 1,956 career points. She averaged 24.9 points per game as a senior and was named to the Associated Press Class First Team All-State.

The Big Blue will wrap up the regular season with back-to-back games versus Augustana College on Feb. 23 and March 1.