AMES –Bill Fennelly refuses to use lack of confidence as an excuse, but something is clearly amiss with his Iowa State squad and its normally potent 3-point shooting.
The Cyclones (14-2, 3-2) are playing with a case of the yips and there’s only one way to fix it. Get back in the gym and put up some shots. Make that a boatload of shots.
Iowa State dropped its second-straight game at home, this time losing to West Virginia, 73-59. Iowa State made just 2-of-20 attempts from 3-point range against the Mountaineers. Combine that with the Cyclones 3-for-17 performance against Oklahoma State and they’ve made 5-of-37 from long range the last two games.
“The confidence thing, that’s an excuse, sorry,” Fennelly said. “You build confidence by getting in the gym and working and taking shots you’re supposed to take."
On the other side of the court, the Mountaineers (15-2, 4-1) shot the ball with conviction. West Virginia entered the contest averaging 5.9 3-pointers per game, but made a season-high 12 on Wednesday.
Compare that with Iowa State’s performance behind the arc and the outcome is hardly surprising.
“We shot probably better today than we have the last three or four games,” West Virginia coach Mike Carey said.
Iowa State came out in a 2-3 zone defensively. The Mountaineers didn’t hesitate to take advantage after seeing zone defenses almost all season.
Bria Holmes drilled West Virginia’s first triple three minutes and 23 seconds into the game and the Mountaineers never looked back. The lead swelled to as many as 16 points in the second half and the Cyclones never trailed by less than six.
“They had confidence early on,” Hallie Christofferson said. “If I had confidence, I’d shoot too.”
After a forgettable first half, Iowa State made a game of it after the break by attacking the hoop. Jadda Buckley hit a tough runner to cut the deficit to 10 points. On the next possession, Brynn Williamson slipped inside for a layup to make it 48-40.
Twice the Cyclones pulled within six only to see West Virginia immediately widen the gap. The second time it happened, Buckley swished a 3-pointer from the right wing and it appeared Iowa State might pull off the comeback.
Nope. Linda Stepney and Holmes both drilled 3’s and the lead was back to 13. With the Cyclones continually missing the mark from distance, it was game over.
“I think our numbers show that we need to get back in the gym, and we need to get some shots up,” Christofferson said.
Christofferson continued to do everything in her power to will Iowa State to victory. The senior scored the Cyclones’ first nine points and finished with 21 for the game on 9-of-12 shooting from the floor.
Now, Iowa State needs to give Christofferson some more assistance.
“That kid deserves everyone’s, everyone’s best effort,” Fennelly said. “Coaches, her teammates, the fans and she didn’t get it. That’s disappointing.”
– Official attendance on Wednesday was 9,824. For the season, the Cyclones are averaging 9,447 fans per game.
– Iowa State had led every game at halftime before Wednesday.
– The Mountaineers were making just 31 percent of their tries from distance entering the game.
– Hallie Christofferson is averaging 21 points and 7.7 rebounds per game this season.
– The Cyclones tallied 10 assists on Wednesday against 11 turnovers.
– Linda Stepney paced West Virginia with 16 points.
– Jadda Buckley scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds. Buckley and Christofferson were the only two Iowa State players in double figures.
– Iowa State scored 38 points in the paint.