Following the Iowa State women’s basketball team’s 84-67 win over Drake on Tuesday night, head coach Bill Fennelly was unhappy with his team’s play after building a big lead. He had no such complaints on Sunday as the Cyclones improved to 3-0 with a dominant 85-54 win over the Cincinnati Bearcats.
The Cyclones never trailed in the game but led by only eight-points at the halftime break. An 8-0 run to start the second half pushed the lead to 16 and the Cyclones never looked back.
“One of the things you challenge your team is make them take the first timeout in the second half,” Fennelly said. “If that happens that means, usually, something good is going. I think it was eight quick ones in a like a minute and a half, and now you’re up 16. We just kept playing and we never let them get too much closer than that.”
Senior guard Brynn Williamson, who led the team with 17 points, including four three-pointers, and five rebounds, was one of four Cyclones to score in double-figures on the afternoon.
Freshman center Bryanna Fernstrom scored 12 points. Guards Nikki Moody and Seanna Johnson had 13 a piece. According to Fennelly, it was Williamson who made the biggest difference.
“I truly think Brynn has embraced being an Iowa State senior and what that means,” Fennelly said. “It means I’ve got to do whatever I’ve got to do. She never rebounded in the past. She never took the ball to the basket in the past. She was stand on the wing and chuck up threes. She’s off to a really good start, and a start we need.”
After a poor showing against Drake, the Iowa State posts took control of the middle and outscored Cincinnati 38-20 in the paint. While there is obviously still growth needed from the inexperienced group, it was a definite step forward.
“I think we all forget, mainly me, they’re either freshmen or they haven’t played,” Fennelly said. “It’s going to be by committee, but they were much better tonight than they were against Drake, it’s night and day different.”
The Cyclones shot 51 percent from the floor and 41 percent from 3-point range with 11 makes. Those are both pretty good numbers but the 8-15, for 53 percent, effort from the free throw line is one that must improve for the Cyclones moving forward.
“The one emphasis that we need to focus on a lot more is free throws,” Williamson said. “We’re a really good free throw shooting team, and tonight we got outscored on the line, so that’s one thing that we kind of need to focus on.”
Next up for the Iowa State women will be a trip to Moraga, Calif. for a Thanksgiving tournament hosted St. Mary’s, where the Cyclones will take on Wyoming Friday, Nov. 28, and St. Mary’s the following day. But before heading west to take on two good teams, the Cyclones can be pleased with by far their most complete performance of the season, so far.
“Sure there was mistakes, and we’ve got to get back in the gym and make some free throws,” Fennelly said. “But from start to finish, offense, defense, the kids followed the plan really well. We shared the ball, any time you only have eight turnovers, any time you have balanced scoring, any time you hold down the other team’s best players offensively, that’s usually a pretty good day, and that’s what happened today.”
** The win was Iowa State’s 80th consecutive regular-season home win against a nonconference opponent.
** With a 3-pointer at the 18:37 mark of the second half, senior guard Nikki Moody became the 26th Iowa State women’s basketball player to scored 1,000 points in her career.
** Iowa State extended its NCAA-record streak of 615 games with a 3-pointer.
** The Cyclones have made 10 or more 3-pointers in consecutive for the first time since a three-game stretch from Feb. 1-9 2014.