AMES — On Monday, Iowa State women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly said being the best team in the state was one of the program’s biggest goals. On Tuesday, they took the first step towardS that goal when the Cyclones beat Drake 84-67 in Hilton Coliseum.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the Cyclones, who committed 20 turnovers in the game. Iowa State was outscored 46-39 and failed to shoot a free throw during the second half.
“We play a good high school game, 32 minutes,” Fennelly said. “Unfortunately the game is 40. We decide that when we get ahead 28 points that we can just shut it down and not play the game the right way.”
Iowa State was led by senior guard Nikki Moody, who finished with 18 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds. That effort was two rebounds shy of the program’s first triple-double since Alison Lacey did so against Iowa in 2009.
Even though Moody played one of the best games in recent memory, she wasn’t completely happy with her performance.
“I could have done a lot better, I feel like,” Moody said. “I didn’t take control of the offense like I should have, I feel like in a sense, I let my teammates down by how many turnovers we had.”
Moody was one of four Cyclone guards to score in double-figures on the night. Freshman Emily Durr and senior Brynn Williamson added 14 points, while sophomore Jadda Buckley scored 13.
While the backcourt was thriving, the Iowa State frontcourt struggled. Coming off of her 25-point performance that earned her Big 12 freshman of the week honors, Bryanna Fernstrom scored only two points in 19 minutes of play. The other freshman center, Claire Ricketts, scored four in nine minutes on the floor, while the two combined for only two rebounds.
Junior Madison Baier, two minutes, and senior Fallon Ellis, one minute, were the other two players to see time down low. The lack of production from the middle caused Fennelly to use 11 players in the first 11 minutes of the game.
“We were searching for a post player to be honest with you,” Fennelly said. “We needed some energy. I don’t know exactly, I think 31, 32 minutes and we got two rebounds from our post players. You ought to get two of the ball just falling in your hands.”
Sophomore Seanna Johnson added nine points and led the team with 12 rebounds. The Cyclones shot 46 percent from the floor, and were 14-39 for 36 percent from 3-point range.
The high number of 3-point attempts, even for Iowa State, could be attributed to Fennelly using a five guards lineup for the first time this season.
“We were searching and we went to five guards, which isn’t a great lineup,” Fennelly said. “But, we had to do something.”
At the end of the day, it was no secret that Iowa State would be a very guard driven team this season. The post players are still developing and two of them were playing in just their second regular season college game.
But the way that the Cyclones gave up a 28-point lead is a concern and according to Fennelly, it is important that adjustments are made.
“We need to get that figured out quickly,” Fennelly said. “If we do, I think you can see some really good things out of this team. If we don’t, we’re going to struggle, mightily.”
There is only one thing that the Cyclones can do to fix their mistakes from Tuesday that is to get back to work.
“We’ve proven over time that we sort of know what we’re doing,” Fennelly said. “At some point, as a player, as a person, as an employee, as a family member, you got to look in the mirror and say this in unacceptable and I’ve got to be better, and some of it is me, and some of it is them. We’ll come right back to work, we’re going to office, and we’ll get to work, and we’ll come back Thursday to practice, and see who wants to do it the Iowa State way.”