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AMES – Not this time, Kansas.
Iowa State made sure it wouldn’t lose another big lead to the Jayhawks. The No. 23-ranked Cyclones fought off Kansas over the last 10 minutes on Wednesday night, winning 83-68 to stay in second place in the Big 12.
“We needed this win just because of what they did to us down there,” Hallie Christofferson said. “Coming to our building, we knew we had to hold it down here.”
Déja Vu nearly struck. Kansas cut a double-digit Iowa State lead to 60-57, but the Cyclones (20-6, 11-5) didn’t flinch. Iowa State used a 13-0 run to break the game open, and outscored the Jayhawks 23-11 the rest of the way.
“It’s nice to get to 20 wins, 6-1 in February,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “It was a great month.”
Christofferson started the decisive run with a trey for a six-point edge. The lead became nine when Chelsea Poppens worked hard inside for a traditional 3-point play.
Anna Prins capped the spurt with another 3-point play to push the Cyclones’ advantage to 70-57.
The Jayhawks (16-11, 7-9) didn’t get closer than seven points the rest of the game as Iowa State pulled away at the free throw line by making its last 16 attempts.
Poppens capped the victory with a nice move inside to make it 81-68. The senior finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds for her seventh double-double. The Applington native made 12-of-13 free-throw tries.
“Four years ago, if you would have said Poppens shot 13 free throws, you’d cringe because she’d make five of them,” Fennelly said. “Now, you’re surprised when she misses.”
Christofferson continued her stellar play with 20 points of her own. The Exira native is averaging 15.9 points per game in Big 12 play.
“(Christofferson) is a great offensive weapon for them,” Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson said.
After hitting 7-of-8 from long range to start the game, Iowa State attacked inside. The Cyclones outscored the Jayhawks 36-16 in the paint and held the rebounding edge, 43-29.
With the regular season winding down, Iowa State controls its own destiny for second place in the Big 12. The Cyclones travel to lowly TCU on Saturday, before hosting Oklahoma State in the finale on March 4.
“Coach” of the game
The Big 12 should be doing a lot of apologizing this week. First the fiasco on Monday night, and then this little fact:
Bill Fennelly has never won Big 12 Coach of the Year.
What more does the man need to do?
In 17 seasons at Iowa State, Fennelly owns a record of 373-173 and has taken his team to the postseason 15 times. That’s an average of more than 21 wins per season. Fennelly added his 12th 20-win season in Cardinal and Gold on Wednesday night.
“I feel very blessed to play for a program like this, and for a coach that knows the game like Coach Fennelly does,” Anna Prins said.
The juggernaut Baylor Bears were expected to run away with the conference crown. Fennelly’s done a brilliant job coaching his troops into second place.
Is it enough to snag the award?
Bill Fennelly on what he was thinking watching Kansas try to come back against Iowa State again
“I really didn’t have flashbacks (of the last game),” Fennelly said. “I’m sure everyone in the crowd did.”
Anna Prins on her teammate Hallie Christofferson
“Hallie, I think, is a special player and a special person. This might sound corny, but I think she’s a star. She’s awesome. She’s a great teammate too.”
– Official attendance on Wednesday was 10,681.
– Nikki Moody notched a double-double in the win. Moody tallied 12 points and 10 assists. She also grabbed five rebounds.
– Chelsea Poppens improved her average at the free throw line to 84.5 percent this season.
– Iowa State scored 19 points off turnovers.
– Brynn Williamson hit a pair of 3-pointers and finished with eight points.
– Angel Goodrich (21 points) and Monica Engelman (20 points) paced the Kansas offense.
Welcome to the Big 12, Texas Christian. The Horned Frogs have been beaten up during conference, winning only one game (8-19, 1-15).
Iowa State will look for a season-sweep on Saturday at TCU. Earlier this season, the Cyclones topped the Horned Frogs 68-52.
Chelsea Poppens sparked Iowa State in the first tilt. The senior scored 24 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. Hallie Christofferson chipped in 14 points in the victory.