Redshirt freshman guard TeeTee Starks made a career-high of 11 rebounds at the game against Northern Illinois on Sunday, Dec. 11, at Hilton Coliseum. Credit: Lani Tons
AMES — The Iowa State women’s basketball team entered Sunday’s matchup against Kansas 0-3 in the Big 12. In each of those losses, the Cyclones were right in the thick of things but poor shooting doomed them down the stretch.
This one wasn’t even close via an 87-58 final.
“[Iowa State] needed it really badly,” said head coach Bill Fennelly. “No one wants to hear that you were close. Even though as a coach or whatever, you talk about compete, compete and effort. At the end of the day, no one cares about your effort unless you are winning.”
The effort displayed by Iowa State defensively in the opening quarter of set the tone for the whole contest. The Cyclones held the Jayhawks to a mere four points and to a depressing 9.1 percent shooting percentage.
“The start was critical,” Fennelly. “Defensively, I thought [Iowa State] was really good early, which gave us a chance to overcome some turnovers. But you know, 18-4 at the quarter it’s a good combination of solid offense, good defense. All the things you want to start the game.”
One of the main takeaways from the Cyclones’ non-conference schedule was that they were going to rely on the “Big Three” (Jadda Buckley, Seanna Johnson, and Bridget Carleton.
In Iowa State’s first three Big 12 games, Buckley and Johnson both performed to their expectations. They both scored 41 and 49 points respectively throughout those three losses. But Carleton wasn’t carrying her weight and fell into a bit of a slump.
During the Oklahoma State and Texas Tech games, Fennelly told her that he would stop telling her to shoot 2 and a half years from now when she is graduated.
Carleton took what Fennelly said to her to heart.
“It feels much better,” Carleton said on her 6-of-9 shooting for 21 point performance. “I have been in the gym shooting, so it’s kind of nice to have it pay off in a game. It just fell into place today.”
While Carleton was happy to regain her shooting ability, she was more elated about Iowa State getting its confidence back at a much needed time. After the Kansas, the Cyclones will take on the Oklahoma Sooners and the Baylor Bears, who are the bluebloods of the Big 12, in two of their next three games.
Fennelly and his staff will meet to gameplan against Oklahoma, as he has yet to look at the Sooners. Until then, he is happy to see his team claim its first conference win of the season.
“It’s nice to see our kids smile,” Fennelly said.
Lineups going forward
After starting Heather Bowe instead of TeeTee Starks in all three previous Big 12 games, Fennelly decided to go back to Starks (who was a starter in the non-conference portion of Iowa State’s schedule) against Kansas.
Moving forward, the Cyclones will keep on changing its lineup.
“Heather will be back in the mix,” Fennelly said. “I would be shocked if TeeTee isn’t starting again. A lot of it will be gameplan decision. Where we think we can score and defend.”