By Ian Smith, CycloneFanatic.com Contributor
Follow Ian on Twitter @IanWsmith3
Iowa State women’s basketball coverage at CycloneFanatic.com is brought to by our good friends at Wilson Toyota, located at 2212 S. Duff Ave. in Ames.
AMES – Brynn Williamson is fearless.
If she doesn’t make her first 3-pointer, no worries, the freshman thinks she’ll get the next. When those shots fall, watch out. Williamson is capable of igniting an offense in a flash.
That’s exactly what Williamson did on Wednesday. Her 3’s sparked Iowa State (15-9, 6-7) to a 66-47 victory over Kansas.
“They have to fall sometime,” Williamson said. “I’m going to keep shooting until they go in.”
An easy win was no sure thing during the first half. Iowa State’s offense sputtered worse than a 1984 Sheepdog, and Cyclones shot a measly 31 percent.
Things changed quickly when the long-ball started falling. Iowa State put together its best shooting half of the season – making a whopping 60 percent of its shots.
The Cyclones outscored the Jayhawks by 21 points after halftime.
“The second half was probably as good as we’ve played,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said.
“I always tell our team, you need to be at your best when your best was needed. Our best was needed then and they were at their best.”
There’s little doubt about that. Iowa State blitzed Kansas by opening the second half on a 14-0 run. The Cyclones later used a 13-4 burst to blow out the Jayhawks.
Williamson drilled a pair of 3-pointers to push Iowa State in front 29-23 at the start of the stanza. Chelsea Poppens scored two buckets inside to give the Cyclones a 35-23 edge.
The Jayhawks pulled within 40-33, but Anna Prins and Lauren Mansfield made sure Kansas didn’t get closer.
Prins scored in the lane, then swished a 3-pointer to give Iowa State a 49-33 lead. Mansfield’s trey made the score 58-41.
Mansfield and fellow senior Chassidy Cole combined to score 15 points, grab 14 rebounds and dish out 16 assists in the victory.
“I told our seniors at halftime, decide where you want to go,” Fennelly said. "I’m going to give you the ball and we’ll see. I thought they both played great.”
The win avenges an earlier loss to Kansas (17-8, 6-7) in double overtime and moves Iowa State into a tie with the Jayhawks for fifth place in the conference.
Player of the game
Every good team needs a Chassidy Cole. Or in other words, a player who will do whatever it takes to win.
Against Kansas, Cole notched a career-high 11 assists, including 10 in the second half. The senior also chipped in six points and eight rebounds.
“She is obviously our best defender,” Fennelly said. “We are asking her to rebound a little bit more. We played her at the point in the second half.
“(Chassidy) was great at both ends of the floor, and I thought Lauren (Mansfield) was equally as good.”
The Cyclones struggled in the first half to score points, but behind Cole and Mansfield, Iowa State put up 45 points after halftime.
“Coach (Fennelly) got on us and told us we needed to step up,” Cole said. “I felt like it was all or nothing. If we didn’t step up, I felt like our team was going down the drain.”
Consider it a job well done.
Home sweet Hilton
Iowa State’s tilt against Kansas followed a familiar path. A close game suddenly turned into a Cyclones rout behind a flurry of 3-pointers and thousands of throaty fans.
Same story, different game on Iowa State’s home court.
“That’s why everybody comes to games here right?” Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “(They) go crazy when you hit a 3.”
Hilton Coliseum’s “powers” are well documented but the numbers are still staggering. After its victory on Wednesday, Iowa State is now 11-2 at home this season and 4-2 in the Big 12. Under Fennelly, the Cyclones are 227-37 at home.
During Iowa State’s streak of 541 games with a 3-pointer, the Cyclones have averaged 7.7 treys per game.
If Iowa State continues to take care of business at home, it will punch its sixth-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Cyclones destination for those games? Right back at Hilton.
That’s a nightmare scenario for any of the top seeds that will come to Ames.
Brynn Williamson on the victory and Saturday’s game against Oklahoma“We busted our butts and got the win. Now we can look forward to Oklahoma because we got embarrassed there. We are not going to get embarrassed here in front of 10,000 fans who pay to come watch us play.”
– Lauren Mansfield has recorded 30 assists in the last five games.
– Brynn Williamson has made a trey in 21 of 23 games she has played this season.
– Official attendance was 10,566.
– Chelsea Poppens continued to play well. The junior scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. It was her 12th double-double of the season.
– Hallie Christofferson finished with 14 points. Anna Prins scored nine.
Iowa State will look to even its conference record on Saturday when the Cyclones host Oklahoma. Earlier this season, the Sooners (17-8, 9-4) used a second-half surge to blow past Iowa State, 80-51. Oklahoma beat Kansas State on Wednesday, 68-62.
Aaryn Ellenberg paces Oklahoma offensively with 14.9 points per game. Whitney Hand (12.8) and Morgan Hook (10.4) also average in double figures. As a team, the Sooners are averaging nearly 71 points per game.
Defensively, watch out for center Nicole Griffin. The sophomore entered Wednesday’s game with 45 blocks already this season.
Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.