AMES – For the first 36 minutes of its game on Sunday afternoon, nothing went right for the Iowa State women’s basketball team.
The Cyclones (5-1) were locked in a back and forth battle with the Stony Brook Seawolves (3-5) when Brynn Williamson knocked down a 3-pointer, for her first three points of the game, with 3:40 to go. Williamson’s triple gave the Cyclones a five-point lead and sparked a 12-4 run down the stretch that eventually led to a 74-64 win.
The Seawolves kept the game close throughout and led for over 15 minutes. Iowa State senior guard Nikki Moody said the Seawolves hanging around really came down to one thing.
“They were just hot,” Moody said. “They came out shooting and all their shots were going in. We were trying our best to get them out of the paint and everything was just falling for them, so it was kind of hard for us to get a lead.”
Stony Brook shot 56 percent (14-25) in the first half and was 3-5 from 3-point range. Coming into the game, the Seawolves had shot just 42 percent from the floor as a team and only 22 percent from behind the 3-point arc.
“They made shots that they hadn’t,” said Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly. “You’ve got a kid make a three that hadn’t made one all season, you’ve got a kid hit one off the top of the backboard and go in, you’ve got a kid banking them in. But that’s sports and that’s why you can’t say, ‘Well that was luck.’ Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. That’s the game. That’s what makes the game so great.”
Despite the Seawolves getting off to a hot start, the Cyclones were able to take a 39-37 lead into the halftime break but Moody, who finished with a career-high 24 points and seven assists, knew that the Cyclones would have to pick it up in order to win the game.
“They hit every shot and I was just kind of like, ‘Okay, we have to step it up, we have to put it at another notch.” Moody said. “We had to attack them more.”
The Cyclones shot a worse percentage from the floor in the second half (50 percent to 43 percent), but five made 3-pointers and some halftime adjustments were enough to keep the Cyclones in position to eventually make their game-ending run.
“We went to five guards, we started in a zone,” Fennelly said about his team’s halftime adjustments. “It kind of kept us hanging around a little bit. Allowed us to focus more on our offense than trying to cover up what we weren’t doing on defense.”
When the game comes down to the last few minutes and his team needs a run, there is one thing that Bill Fennelly tells his team.
“Our mantra to them is do what you do best,” Fennelly said. “Don’t try and invent the game, don’t try and do something silly.”
Sophomore guards Seanna Johnson, 19 points and eight rebounds, and Jadda Buckley, 13 points and three 3-pointers, joined Moody in double-figures scoring on the afternoon.
The Seawolves were led in scoring by senior forward Sabre Proctor, who scored 16 points, despite fouling out of the game with over nine minutes to play.
The Cyclones have a big week ahead of them with a trip to in-state rival Iowa coming up on Thursday, but today they can be happy to pick up another win.
“The fans were the difference, Stony Brook outplayed us, outcoached us,” Fennelly said. “But we won the game, and we feel good about winning the game.”