AMES — Bill Fennelly wasn’t sure if Nikki Moody would be able to play when the Iowa State women’s basketball team finished their shoot around before their game at Texas last Sunday.
The senior point guard suffered a sprained ankle against TCU but even though her head coach had questions, Moody said there was no way Fennelly was keeping her out.
“I was going to play regardless,” Moody said. “Coach, he wanted to be cautious because we have a long week ahead. I told him at that at the end of the day I’m going to play. If he wanted to limit my minutes, he took me out sometimes to help me out, compensate with that. But at the end of the day I knew I was going to play.”
Moody scored 14 points to lead the team as the Cyclones (14-4, 5-2 Big 12) finished off a sweep of the No. 8 Texas Longhorns with a 58-57 road win, extending their winning streak to three games.
The Cyclones defeated the (at the time) third-ranked Longhorns 59-57 two weeks earlier in Hilton Coliseum. According to Moody, the second win was even bigger than the first one.
“I think it was bigger, just because it was a road game,” Moody said. “They play great at home, so it was just a big win for us.”
Next up on the slate for ISU is the Kansas Jayhawks (11-9, 2-5 Big 12), who will invade Hilton Coliseum for a 7 o’clock tip this evening.
Fennelly sees this week as a big one for the Cyclones with winnable games against KU and Oklahoma State on the docket.
“I think one of the biggest weeks of our season,” Fennelly said. “This week ends the first half of the Big 12. We have two home games against two teams that, obviously, later in the year we have to return to. So we need to really get after it. We have nine straight days. So we got to be smart about how we practice and prepare. But a week that we need to really find that extra gear that’s sometimes hard to find this time of year.”
The biggest key in beating the Jayhawks will be limiting 6-foot-3-inch senior forward Chelsea Gardner. Gardner enters the game averaging 16.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
In the Jayhawks’ last game, against West Virginia, Gardner scored 20 points, while also grabbing 20 rebounds. For a comparison, the Cyclones grabbed just 24 rebounds in their win over Texas.
“She was my preseason player of the year,” Fennelly said. “She’s a pro. She plays like it. She scores like it. I don’t care who you’re playing against, you get 20 points and 20 rebounds, that’s a hell of a game. Chelsea’s a first team all-conference player. I’d be shocked if she’s not a first round WNBA pick. Every game it’s somebody, and they don’t get much better than Chelsea Gardner.”
The Jayhawks could be a team that sneaks up and surprises some people this season. They played right with Baylor, ultimately losing 71-63, but then won their last two games, 68-66 over Texas Tech and 65-59 over West Virginia. According toFennelly, any team that plays hard and has a good mix of seniors, like theJayhawksdo, will be a tough team to beat.
“They know how to play,” Fennelly said. “Our games with them are always hard fought, grind it out kind of games because they really guard, they’re well prepared… We’re going to get tested again.”
Tonight’s game game will be televised on Cyclones.tv.