Jan 23, 2016; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Bill Fennelly reacts during the first half against the Baylor Bears at James H. Hilton Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
For the first 12 minutes of their exhibition game, the Iowa State Cyclones were waged in a back-and-forth contest against the Briar Cliff Chargers.
Early on, Iowa State’s offense was baffled by Briar Cliff’s 2-3 zone defense. A turnover here and a poor shot there.
Even when the Cyclones made a layup or a 3-pointer to attempt to pull away, the Chargers responded with a bucket of their own. It was after the eight minute mark in the second quarter when the Cyclones sharpened their game and ultimately defeated the Chargers by a 85-46 final.
“Second quarter and into the third quarter, defensively, I thought we were much more engaged,” said Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly.
From that eight minute mark in the second quarter to the end of the third quarter, Iowa State held Briar Cliff to a mere 17 points. Fennelly created that surge in momentum due to the elevated aggressiveness by his team.
In first 10 minutes of the exhibition, the Cyclones had no fouls. During the next 10 minutes, Iowa State was tacked for five personal fouls.
“If you don’t foul for 10 minutes, you are probably not playing very hard,” Fennelly said.
Overall, the Cyclones held the Chargers to a poor 28.8-percent from the field and 21.1-percent from 3-point land.
Not only did Iowa State’s defense experience a momentum shift during that time period, but the offense mastered a surge as well.
The Chargers’ zone baited the Cyclones to shoot the three. That was a poor decision on Briar Cliff’s part because Iowa State was feeling it from behind the arc.
The Cyclones’ first three baskets were 3-pointers by Bridget Carleton, Jadda Buckley and Seanna Johnson.
Overall, Iowa State shot well. The Cyclones hit 45.3-percent from the floor, 40-percent behind the 3-point line and 83.3-percent from the charity stripe, a noticeable improvement from the team’s scrimmage against Nebraska, according to Fennelly.
While the statistics were impressive all around, the biggest takeaway was the potential flashed by the role players.
Everyone knows what Fennelly and company will get out of the likes of Buckley, Carleton, Johnson and the other two starters – TeeTee Starks and Meredith Burkhall. But what about Vanderbilt transfer Heather Bowe and incoming freshman guard Nia Washington?
“Heather helped me a lot with rebounding, and I think she is a very, very physical player. I really love her game,” Johnson said. “And for Nia, she helps Jadda a lot. I know Jadda wants to play off the 2-guard and I think Nia does a really good job taking care of the ball. She is just a really unselfish player and I really like that about her.”
Bowe finished the day with nine points and four rebounds while Washington recorded four points, three assists and three steals. Expect to see more of these two during the regular season as Fennelly plans to utilize up to 10 players in his team’s rotation.
Although the goal of exhibition games are to win and play everyone who probably won’t see that many minutes, there are still some kinks that teams notice during the game. Against Briar Cliff, Fennelly noticed two areas that Iowa State needs to fix before its season opener against UC-Santa Barbara on Nov. 11.
“We got to be a better, more committed possession-to-possession defensive team,” Fennelly said. “And we’ve got to be a team that doesn’t wait for Seanna to get the rebound. We are not going to grow two-or-four inches by next Friday.”
While those are certainly areas of pressing concern, Fennelly thought the outing by his team was good. He was glad that they finally got the jitters out of the way and is looking forward for the season to get underway.