Prins’ breakout game paces Iowa State

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By Ian Smith, Contributor

AMES – North Dakota State wears the same colors as No. 1 Baylor, but the Bison play nothing like their Green and Gold counterparts.

No. 17 ranked Iowa State (12-2) rolled North Dakota State, 80-51, in its final tune-up before Big 12 play. On deck for the Cyclones are the Baylor Bears.

“I think the exciting part is I feel like the team had a breakout game,” Anna Prins said. “We’ve been talking about finding the Iowa State way, and I think we found it tonight.”

Speaking of breakout games, did someone steal Prins’ No. 55 jersey on Tuesday night? No, the sophomore just played up to her potential. Playing her best game of the season, Prins was barely recognizable as the same player who had trouble scoring around the rim for much of the year.

With a newfound confidence, Prins tallied a career-high 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting in only 20 minutes.

“Certainly, Anna Prins performance was really, really good,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “You think about those numbers in 20 minutes. I wish I could have played her more because when you have it going like that you want to keep playing, but the score didn’t allow that.”

The rest of the Iowa State lineup didn’t do to shabby either. Tuesday’s tilt may have provided a glimpse of what the Cyclones need to do on Saturday against Baylor.

Fennelly started frontcourt players Prins (center), Chelsea Poppens (forward) and Hallie Christofferson (forward) together for the first time this season against the Bison. The new look paid dividends. The trio combined for 41 points and 17 rebounds.

Iowa State will need much more of the same versus Baylor.

“Obviously, the Big 12 after all my years of service didn’t cut me a break at all,” Fennelly said. “But you have to play (Baylor) sooner or later.”

Player of the game

Anna Prins adds a dangerous dynamic to Iowa State. That is if she can bring the same intensity every night that she did on Tuesday. Standing 6-foot-7, Prins is long enough to create problems in the Big 12.

Prins is adept at shooting 3-pointers, but the most encouraging sign against the Bison was her tenacity around the rim. There was no fading away or fumbling the ball, the Broomfield, Colo. native went up strong.

“I think it’s something inside of me,” Prins said. “Sometimes, I do have a tendency to shy away. I think just keeping that attack mode and keeping that confidence in myself and the team (is important).”

It was all Prins early on as she scored eight of the Cyclones’ first 14 points and finished the first half with 16 points. The sophomore didn’t miss until 1 minute, 33 seconds left in the half.

The scoring pace slowed after the break, but Prins still finished with 22 points and nine rebounds.

“Anna’s someone that from the day we recruited her, we had very, very big expectations (for),” Fennelly said.

“The biggest thing now is understand and watch the film of what it takes to be good every single day.”

Dominating the boards

Helped by Prins’ big performance, Iowa State dominated inside all night. The Cyclones outscored North Dakota in the paint 40-10.

Even more lopsided, the Cyclones outrebounded the Bison 52-20.

“It wasn’t just the post players getting the boards, it was everybody,” freshman Hallie Christofferson said. “That has to continue if we are going to keep playing like this.”

Quick hits

–          Iowa State’s 12-2 record marks the 13th time in 16 seasons that Coach Bill Fennelly has lost two or fewer games in nonconference play.

–          Hallie Christofferson reached double figures for the eighth time with 11 points.

–          Kelsey Bolte scored 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting.

–          Official attendance for the game was 7,021.

Who’s next?

As if there is any question who’s on deck for the Cyclones. The Big 12 schedule makers did Iowa State no favors with a trip to Waco and a matchup with Baylor (13-1) to start conference play.

The Bears enter the game ranked as the No. 1 team in the country for the first time in school history. The only loss on Baylor’s record so far is at Connecticut, 65-64. Against five ranked opponents this season, the Bears own a plus 16.2 scoring margin.

The Cyclones face a tall task in topping Baylor – literally. Brittney Griner – all 6-foot-8 of her – is averaging 21.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.1 blocks per game. Freshman Odyssey Sims is scoring 12.4 per game for Coach Kim Mulkey’s squad.

“It’s fun that we ended the nonconference like we did,” Anna Prins said. “Now, it’s time to get going.”


Ian Smith