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AMES – The 3-pointers get the loudest cheers, but Bill Fennelly knows what wins games against quality opponents.
Defense. Oh, and having a couple of stud freshmen always helps.
The Cyclones flexed their muscles Thursday night against Iowa, shutting the Hawkeyes down, 83-70.
The victory improved Iowa State’s record to 9-0 for the first time since 2000-01.
“It’s always fun to beat a really good team, especially in an environment like this,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said.
What Iowa State lacked in shooting touch, it more than made up for in grit. The Cyclones shot just 32 percent from the floor, but still led by as many as 21 points.
Credit an aggressive game plan that led to a 37-of-49 effort from the free throw line and the defense. Iowa entered the game averaging 84 points per game.
"We said, we’re just going to guard you and see what happens," Fennelly said, who’s team forced 18 Hawkeye turnovers.
With the defense putting the clamps on the Hawkeyes, Iowa State got points at the the line because Jadda Buckley and Nikki Moody continually blew past their defenders. When the Cyclones didn’t end up shooting freebies, they found success from long range, especially in the first half.
Moody hit Brynn Williamson for a trey to give Iowa State an early 12-8 lead. Williamson added another 3-pointer minutes later to make it 22-13.
Kidd Blaskowsky got in on the act with a 3-pointer of her own to push the advantage to 27-13.
On a night when Hallie Christofferson didn’t have her best stuff, the Cyclones picked up the slack.
“It’s such a big game for us,” Christofferson said. “And it’s such a big game for Iowa too. For us to come out here and play like we did and show our fans how well we play basketball, it’s so big for us.”
Iowa State built its lead to 48-32 when Moody drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Next, Moody hit a streaking Seanna Johnson for a layup and 52-32 edge.
From there, the Cyclones put on a clinic from the charity stripe to seal the win.
Buckley and Johnson – both freshman – may have played their best games in the Cardinal and Gold. Buckley tallied 19 points and only one turnover in 38 minutes on the court. All Johnson did was snare 16 rebounds and score seven points.
“They couldn’t stay in front of (Jadda),” Fennelly said. “We really thought we could attack them off the bounce and I thought Jadda, Nikki and Seanna did that.”
Player of the game
Need some ice for your right arm, Brynn?
The Iowa State junior might after her performance against the Hawkeyes on Thursday night. Williamson scored 21 points and hoisted 12 3-pointers, making five.
The scoring output was a new career-high for Williamson.
“Coach talked today about not passing up shots,” Williamson said.
No problems there. The Cyclones needed their gunner early. After struggling in the opening minutes, Williamson ignited the Cyclones.
The Kansas City native’s first trey got the Cyclones on the board. Minutes later, Nikki Moody found an open Williamson in the left corner for another 3-pointer.
Williamson added three more 3’s before the end of the half, including a swish from the left corner to make it 30-17.
“In any game, it’s the 3 that changes the game,” Fennelly said.
Brynn Williamson on getting up for Iowa
“It’s Iowa. That’s all you really have to say for anyone.”
– Official attendance on Thursday was 11,543.
– Bill Fennelly improved to 9-0 at home against Iowa.
– Kidd Blaskowsky fouled out after playing only six minutes.
– Hallie Christofferson scored 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
– Iowa was led by Samantha Logic’s 18 points.