Cyclones show signs of life
Ames, Ia. — What do you do when you run out of centers?
If you're the Iowa State women's basketball team, you shorten the game and bet on a hot hand from your 3-point shooters, which paid off in Wednesday's 65-45 win over Colorado.
Iowa State began pulling away in the final 7minutes of the first half, with Jocelyn Anderson, their only true post player after knee injuries to Nicky Wieben and Toccara Ross, on the bench with two fouls.
With Genesis Lightbourne, listed at 6-foot, replacing Anderson, the Cyclones extended a 21-18 lead to 35-25 at halftime. They opened the second half with an 18-4 spurt, with Alison Lacey scoring eight straight points to make it 53-29 with 12:06 to play.
The Cyclones made 10 of their first 19 3-point attempts.
It was a desperately needed pick-me-up for the Cyclones (13-6, 2-4 in the Big 12), who had lost three straight since Wieben suffered a season-ending torn knee ligament on Jan. 16 - including an 80-49 loss at Kansas State.
"I just can't stop smiling," forward Amanda Nisleit said. "When we were coming into the locker room, everyone had big smiles on their faces. It was a huge win. It's big momentum, now we have to keep working hard."
Iowa State made the NCAA Tournament last season after losing three straight in January, and guard Heather Ezell said the high goals remain for this season, despite the injuries.
"Last year, we were 1-3 in the Big 12 and we turned it around after we beat Texas at home," guard Heather Ezell said. "This is the point of the season where we did it, and we're kind of thinking the same thing."
Nisleit scored a career-high 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds as Iowa State outrebounded the much taller Buffaloes (13-7, 2-5) 43-27. The Cyclones got 15 points and eight rebounds from freshman forward Kelsey Bolte, 15 from Lacey and 14 from Ezell.
The Cyclones also slowed the tempo after Anderson was benched with two fouls for the last 7:48 of the first half. They worked the shot clock, dribbling in the backcourt for 10 or 15 seconds before even starting the offense, something coach Bill Fennelly said they haven't even practiced.
"We made great decisions, made some big shots ...," he said.
Defensively, Iowa State double-teamed Colorado star Jackie McFarland when she tried to post up. McFarland scored 18 points, which was her average, but her teammates were just 8-for-36.
Fennelly said the win came at a crucial time for his team.
"It's been a bad three weeks," he said. "How long can you go to the well and keep saying, 'Keep working, keep working?' If they don't have some success, at what point do they quit believing and give up?"