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Knudsen Leaves Her Mark Atop GNAC Record Books
Bobbi Knudsen of MSUB set five GNAC career individual statistical records throughout her career, including most career points (1,831) and most career assists (532).
Bobbi Knudsen of MSUB set five GNAC career individual statistical records throughout her career, including most career points (1,831) and most career assists (532).
Knudsen scored 17 points and had six assists in MSUB's 60-59 first-round win over the Academy of Art at the 2014 NCAA West Regional tournament.
Knudsen scored 17 points and had six assists in MSUB's 60-59 first-round win over the Academy of Art at the 2014 NCAA West Regional tournament.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014
by Evan O'Kelly, Media Relations Assistant

PORTLAND, Ore. – On Saturday, March 1, Bobbi Knudsen stood at the crux of the key inside Alterowitz Gym in Billings, Mont. Staring through her defender, she dribbled the ball moving lower and lower into her athletic stance.

She darted left, hesitating with the ball just long enough to lure her mark, then she went in for the kill. The senior guard drove into the key, pulling up and sinking an off-balanced mid-range jumper, a shot she had converted more times than could be counted.

But this shot was different. As the ball pierced nylon and the score moved to 11-5 in favor of MSUB, the senior guard’s name moved to the top of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference record books, surpassing Rebecca Kielpinski of Alaska Anchorage with 1,754 points in her career. 

Two nights earlier Knudsen achieved another historic milestone, as her ninth and final assist in a win over Alaska Fairbanks brought her to a record-breaking 502. Knudsen had entered unchartered territory, setting a new career conference standard.

By the end of the season, Knudsen had completed one of the best careers in conference history and led her team to the championship game of the NCAA Division II West Regional tournament. When all was said and done, Knudsen finished with the most career field goals made (680), attempted (1,617), and minutes played (3,838) to go along with her 1,831 points and 532 assists.

These numbers are historic, and speak volumes towards the character of one of the most humble players MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin has ever had in his program. “To me it is amazing to be the top scorer and assistor in conference history at the same time,” Woodin said. “Bobbi is a humble super star whose work ethic is second to none. She is a great competitor who has the ability to will her teammates to play at a higher level.” 

FROM STOP LIGHT TO SPOT LIGHT

“We have one blinking red light, that’s our stop light,” Knudsen said in reference to her hometown of Malta, Mont. Home to around 1,900, Malta lies 200 miles north of Billings and served as the breeding grounds for the development of Knudsen’s athletic skills.

Knudsen’s older brother Casey has been by her side her whole life. “I’m really competitive and so is he,” Knudsen said as she remembered playing basketball with Casey as a kid. “He was always kind of tough on me athletically, which made me better in the long run.” 

Knudsen’s parents Jim and Janice Knudsen, also competed in basketball and track through high school. “My parents always taught me to do everything to the best of my ability and to my fullest potential,” Knudsen said. “Both were good at sports and they have a major drive in what they do, and observing that every day has really helped me.”

Knudsen has had a keen eye for basketball dating back to her elementary school days. “I remember every recess we had I would grab a basketball and that’s what we did for fun,” Knudsen said.

“We have a really close knit community there, and its really nice because you had the same teammates and classmates from kindergarten through high school.”

PICKING OUT THE TALENT

When asked about the potential for Knudsen to have a record-breaking career, Woodin admitted it wasn’t the first thing on his mind when he first offered her a spot on the Yellowjackets’ squad. 

“I don’t know if I was thinking that, but I definitely knew she could impact our team as a freshman,” Woodin responded when asked if he anticipated Knudsen’s name to eventually litter the GNAC record books. “She had a lot of different skills defensively like her competitiveness and ability to apply pressure, and I knew that if her offensive skills improved she could be a great player.”

“It wasn’t until the end of my junior year that I thought I was going to even play in college, and I didn’t really know if I was good enough,” Knudsen remembered about the latter part of her prep career. “Kevin was the only one who ever showed interest in me, and I am so thankful for the opportunities he gave me. Without him I wouldn’t have played.” 

Signs of leadership emerged from Knudsen in her senior year at Malta High School, as she led the M’Ettes to a state championship title. “By that time I had already signed with MSUB, but that meant a lot to me, as there were only two other seniors on the team that year.”

Taking her talents to Billings, Knudsen was immediately inserted into the lineup, starting as a freshman and being named team captain as a sophomore. “She had to be a leader much earlier than a lot of people, and that’s just the way it was because she was the best player on our team,” Woodin said about the three-year captain.

“When I first got here I didn’t think I was going to play very much, but I ended up seeing a lot of time my freshman year,” Knudsen recalled. “The next year I was a captain since I was one of the oldest players on the team. I don’t think I knew that was going to happen, but I was ready for it, accepted it, and liked it a lot.”

A SEASON FOR THE AGES

Much like Knudsen’s championship-winning season at Malta High, she was one of three seniors this season at MSUB and was the lone player to have been in the program for four years.

“Bobbi had always led by example, and the tough part was finding out how to motivate different people on different levels,” Woodin said regarding Knudsen’s leadership. “We had a very mature team and we had great chemistry both on and off the court. There was a real sense of caring for each other.”

MSUB completed a perfect 15-0 record at home during the 2013-14 season, clinching the GNAC regular season title with the win over Alaska Anchorage the same night Knudsen went down as the highest scorer in GNAC history.

Individually, Knudsen led the conference and was among NCAA leaders in assists per game with 5.8, and she was unanimously voted the GNAC Player of the Year. She was a first-team all-West Region selection, and was named a third-team Daktronics and honorable mention Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-American on Monday.

Academically, she was a three-time all-GNAC select with a 3.49 GPA over her four years of studying biology.

Then there are the conference records. “I was actually quite shocked when Kevin told me, I didn’t believe him at first,” Knudsen said. “I just feel honored to have been part of this program and am thankful for everything they have done for me.” 

YELLOWJACKET FAMILY

Aside from the individual accomplishments, Knudsen has recognized the significance of her senior season and realized the unique character of the team surrounding her. “Playing here you learn discipline, respect for one another, and to back each other up no matter what the situation,” said Knudsen regarding the MSUB program. “You learn to love each other as family.”

The ‘Jackets faced a series of hardships throughout the season, losing starter Annie DePuydt to an injury early on before GNAC leading rebounder Janiel Olson went down with the same knee injury with two games left on the conference schedule. The day before MSUB’s first West Regional game, tragedy struck as starter Quinn Peoples’ sister lost a long battle with cancer. 

The way her team carried itself through the adversity and hardship is what Knudsen values the most. “I am so proud of how everyone battled and kept their heads up,” she said. “We never said, ‘we can’t do this anymore’ and we fought all the way to the end.”

As Knudsen’s career as a player at MSUB came to the inevitable close that faces every collegiate athlete, the mark she left behind will forever be stamped in the school and conference record books. Her pull-up jumper and ability to create an assist virtually out of thin air will be the copyrights of her game.

But her ability to bond with and elevate the game of the players around her will go down as the trademark of her legacy. “Playing here really made me grow up and see the world in a new light, and I am so thankful for the opportunity Kevin gave me and to have played with all of my teammates,” Knudsen said. “I am blessed to have had them.”

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