Senior guard Seanna Johnson runs down the court at the home game against UNI on Nov. 15. Johnson made 15 points at the game. ISU won 76-68. Credit: Lani Tons
Iowa State women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly and his roster’s goal was to be 5-0 when November ended.
The Cyclones were able to take down two strong Missouri Valley Conference foes (the UNI Panthers and the Drake Bulldogs) and three softer opponents so far this season. Although Iowa State was definitely tested in the UNI and Drake outings, its first true test of the season comes this Saturday, Dec. 3, at 1:30 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum against the No. 6 Mississippi State Bulldogs.
“We need a collective team effort to get the win this weekend,” Fennelly said on playing what it will take to beat Mississippi State. “Mississippi State is excellent and they’re ranked for a reason. We just need to solidify everything during this week.”
Mississippi State plays very well in every aspect of the game.
The 7-0 Bulldogs are outscoring their opponents by a margin of 27 points per game, with their closest victory coming by 11 against a very solid Texas team. Mississippi State has been dominating thanks to a total team effort (it has five players who average more than seven points per outing), led by guards Victoria Vivians and Morgan William. That’s who will likely be matched up against ISU’s Seanna Johnson and Jadda Buckley.
Both Johnson and Buckley will have their hands full with Vivian and William. Still, Fennelly seems confident in his veteran leaders to get the job on defense.
Obviously, the way to win a basketball game is to make sure the other team scores less than yours but if the Cyclones want to ensure a top-10 upset, they will need their best rebounding performance of the season.
Fennelly has made it clear through five games this year, that his team needs to rebound better.
This SEC foe possesses seven women who stand at 6-foot-1 or taller, including a 6-foot-5 and a 6-foot-7 player. Iowa State has only two 6-foot-1 athletes who see meaningful playing time – starters Bridget Carleton and Meredith Burkhall.
On the season, Mississippi State has outrebounded its opponents by the average margin of 38-to-27 and it has played the likes of: Texas, Tulane, and Oregon.
Mississippi State will be the highest ranked non-conference opponent to travel to Hilton since 1990. However, some of players on the Iowa State roster have knowledge on defeating such a high ranking foe.
“I remember what it was like to beat Baylor (Feb. 28, 2015) at home a couple years ago,” Johnson said. “I can take that game and learn from it to try and beat another top-rated opponent.”
The matchup against Mississippi State will be a tough matchup, maybe even tougher than that Baylor game, but Fennelly is excited to see how his players react to the atmosphere of a top-10 team coming into Hilton.
“We have some of the best fans in the country,” Fennelly said. “We’re excited this type of matchup for not only them, but for our players to prepare for the upcoming Big 12 season.”