AMES – Four days and counting, the brutal Big 12 slate is waiting.
Iowa State’s defense looks ready. So does Kidd Blaskowsky.
Behind a tenacious defensive effort and a sensational night from Blaskowsky, the Cyclones (8-1) whipped Air Force 83-35 in the Cyclone Challenge at Hilton Coliseum. Blaskowsky finished with career-high 26 points and eight 3-pointers.
“I took over, yesterday, coaching Kidd on her 3-point shots,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “I take full credit for her… no I’m just kidding.”
Actually those duties fell to assistant coach Jodi Steyer. After Blaskowsky went 0-of-8 from behind the arc at Iowa earlier this season, she knew she needed to get back to work. Blaskowsky found when she bent her knees a little, her shot went in more consistently.
“We weren’t even on the bus (after the Iowa game) and she texted Jodi and said this is unacceptable, I’m tired of hurting my team,” Fennelly said. “She spent a lot of time in the gym. When you work hard at something, and you’re accountable and you don’t blame other people, it’s amazing what can happen.”
Blaskowsky hit two 3’s in the first half, but the freshman really found her range after the break. The Sugar Land, Texas native drilled treys on the Cyclones’ first two possessions in the second half and grew more confident from there.
“It’s usually my footwork, not having my knees bent in the ready position,” Blaskowsky said. “Tonight I listened and it just happened.”
It all clicked for Blaskowsky against the Falcons. By the time final horn buzzed, she swished 8-of-13 shots from behind the arc.
Blaskowsky’s performance is significant with Texas coming to Ames on Jan. 2. With Chelsea Poppens and Anna Prins patrolling the paint, adding another outside threat to pair with Brynn Williamson is huge.
“I think it’s really important that we continue to get that outside shot because it will open up the inside,” Anna Prins said. “Teams will have to choose which one to guard.”
While Blaskowsky couldn’t miss, the Falcons (1-10) made just 25 percent of their shots and turned the ball over 16 times.
Sounds about right.
Iowa State entered the game with the best field goal percentage against in the country. It improved that mark to 28.9 percent in Saturday’s win against Air Force.
Right from the get-go, the Falcons’ offense looked about as comfortable as Tim Tebow in the pocket. Air Force scored just 10 first half points.
Things improved after the break for the Falcons, but mostly because Iowa State took its foot off the gas and subbed heavily.
Prins backed Blaskowsky’s strong game with 18 points and eight rebounds. Williamson (13) and Hallie Christofferson also finished in double figures for Iowa State.
Iowa State is right back in action on Sunday when the Cyclones take on Alabama State. The Hornets lost to Penn 52-37 on Saturday.
Tip is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
– Official attendance on Saturday was 7,287.
– Hallie Christofferson entered Saturday’s game ninth in the Big 12 in scoring average with 15.6 points per game. The junior is averaging 7.9 rebounds per game, which is tied for sixth in the Big 12. Christofferson has scored in double figures in all nine games this season.
– The Cyclones made a 3-pointer for the 557th game in a row.
– Nikki Moody didn’t score in the game, but she finished with eight assists. The sophomore ranked third nationally entering Saturday with 7.3 assists per game. Moody has five or more assists in all eight games she has played this season.
– Iowa State outrebounded Air Force 57-29.
– The 48-point margin of victory was the Cyclones’ largest since a 50-point victory against Niagara on Dec. 29, 2008.