AMES — Last season when No. 3 Texas rolled into Hilton Coliseum on the second Saturday of January, most people were counting the Iowa State women’s basketball team out before the opening tip.
The Cyclones had just suffered an 86-84 loss on the road at TCU and the Longhorns were finally working their way back to full strength after injuries had riddled the early part of their season. Jadda Buckley had just been shut down for the year a week earlier.
Not many things were going right for the Cyclones, until they did.
Iowa State won that game. They changed the momentum of their season and Saturday afternoon they’ll look to do the same when the No. 6 Texas Longhorns arrive in Ames for a 1 p.m. tip.
“I remember being way down, hitting a shot right before the half and kind of hanging in the game,” said Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly. “Nikki (Moody) made a nice play down the lane for the winning basket and actually I remember we made a defensive mistake on the last shot. Luckily they missed it. That’s the nature of the game. I think the biggest thing was the way we competed even though we got way down.”
It seems like being down has been a common theme for this year’s Iowa State team. They’ve battled injuries to their best players Seanna Johnson and Buckley. They’ve lost six of their last seven games with two of those losses coming in overtime.
They’ve struggled to shoot, defensive rebound and defend the post.
Despite all that, they’ve never stopped competing. That’s how you go on the road to Lawrence, Kan. and change your momentum with a 63-53 win Tuesday night. That’s how you snap a funk.
“I keep telling them all the time it’s effort plus some kind of execution leads to success. I think our effort, again, I’m not going to complain about it,” Fennelly said. “The execution hasn’t been there but in the second half it was. We didn’t turn the ball over. We made shots. We went from 18 points in the first half to 45 in the second. We did a lot of good things in the second half and we’ve just got to maximize that.”
Is the funk gone for good?
Only time will tell, but when you compete, you leave the door open for your season to go a lot of different ways.
It comes down to standing your ground, fighting with your teammates and not allowing yourself to be broken. These Cyclones have those qualities. They’re the people you would want in your foxhole.
Flat out, they’re competitors.
“We have to understand, that we can all talk about it, but it’s a 40-minute game,” Fennelly said. “Every game we haven’t had success there’s been a four to six-minute timeline that we haven’t been able to do the things to either, you’re not going to win or lose a game, but just stay even. Trade baskets or trade stops, not just have a run by the other team that knocks you out or puts you in a position that we’re not capable of overcoming. Hopefully we’re getting that figured out a little bit better because you need to when you play a team like Texas.”