AMES — Sometimes, all a shooter can do is pray.
That’s exactly what Iowa State senior forward Fallon Ellis did when she attempted just her fifth 3-pointer of the season against Kansas State with 2:51 left and the score tied at 50.
“Funny thing about that, she passed it to me, and I shot it, and kind of prayed it would go in,” Ellis said after the win.
It did. The triple gave Iowa State a three-point lead and eventually allowed the Cyclones (10-2, 1-0 Big 12) to pull away from the Wildcats (10-2, 0-1 Big 12) and pick up a 60-55 win in front of 7,372 fans at Hilton Coliseum.
Entering the game, Ellis had seen her minutes increase but with Kansas State’s 6-foot-5 forward Breanna Lewis patrolling the middle, it seemed that Iowa State’s 6-foot-5 freshman Bryanna Fernstrom would get most of the minutes down low for the Cyclones.
That was far from the case as Ellis, who is just 5-11, scored 11 points in 21 minutes of play. She also held her own defensively against Lewis, who scored only eight points on 4-of-14 shooting.
“I thought Fallon did an amazing job of trying to guard that kid,” said Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly. “I thought she did a good job of holding her ground, making her hit shots over the top of her.”
The Cyclones struggled early against Kansas State’s extended 2-3 zone and trailed 8-2 in the first three minutes. It didn’t take long for Iowa State to figure out the zone though and they used a 13-6 run to take a 15-14 lead with 12:22 left in the first half. The Cyclones wouldn’t trail again.
“I think we just got the right people in the right spots,” said Iowa State senior guard Brynn Williamson, who finished with a team-high 15 points. “Emily (Durr) and Nikki (Moody) can play the middle of that zone, along with Seanna (Johnson), they face up, they can attack the basket, they can pull up and hit a shot right in front of you, or they can find open shooters.”
Iowa State was able to find open shooters against the zone for much of the night and knocked down nine three-pointers, including three from Williamson. The Cyclones also assisted on 15 of their 17 field goals in the win.
While both of those stats look good, there is one that stat that didn’t look so good – turnovers. The Cyclones finished with 21 of them, and that is a number that must change if Iowa State will have success in the Big 12.
“That was ridiculous,” Fennelly said. “It’s got to start with crediting K-State’s defense, but there were things that we did that were either uncharacteristic, or not what you do in a Big 12 game.”
There are always going to be things that can be fixed for Iowa State, but at the end of the day they did pick up their first conference win.
“I’m really excited for the kids that they won, it’s fun to win a Big 12 game,” Fennelly said. “Hopefully we can see the video of a Big 12 game and our kids will know, this what we need to be doing.”
*** Sophomore guard Jadda Buckley scored seven points and grabbed three rebounds in her return from a foot injury that held her out of the last three games. But, she suffered a new injury during the second half of the win.
“Jadda dislocated her finger,” Fennelly said. “Everyone got kind of queasy on the bench.”
Buckley returned to the game and knocked down a big 3-pointer late in the game, so Fennelly doesn’t think it effected her too much.
“We want Jadda to shoot whenever she can,” Fennelly said. “I trust the medical staff and Jadda. Jadda’s matured a lot with her injuries and said she was fine. In a weird way she probably wasn’t thinking about it since the game was going on.”
*** Freshman guard Emily Durr was the third Cyclone to finish in double-figures scoring with 10 points.
*** Iowa State extended their NCAA-record streak to 624 consecutive games with a 3-pointer.
*** Senior Brynn Williamson picked up her second double-double of the season with 12 rebounds to go along with her 15 points.
*** The Cyclones shot 17-48 (35.4 percent) from the field and 9-27 (33.3 percent) from 3-point range. The Wildcats finished 22-55 (40 percent) from the field and 1-9 (11.1 percent) from 3-point range.
*** The Iowa State women will be back in action when they head to Fort Worth to take on the TCU Horned Frogs (8-3) in a 7 p.m. tip on Wednesday.