The Iowa State women’s basketball team returns home to Hilton Coliseum on Sunday to take on the Kansas Jayhawks at 1 p.m. For the first time since the 2011-12 season, Iowa State will enter this game with an unfamiliar feeling: being 0-3 in the Big 12.
By no means have all three games been bad losses for the Cyclones. Iowa State lost to Oklahoma State on the road. Following that, the Cyclones put up a fight against the then No. 16 Texas Longhorns, 75-68. Recently, Iowa State relinquished a seven point halftime to Texas Tech on the road, 75-66.
One single common denominator that has separated the Cyclones from these outings: fourth quarter play.
“We aren’t getting to the free throw line at all,” head coach Bill Fennelly said on his team’s fourth quarter woes. “Defensive rebounding wise, [Iowa State] haven’t been very good.Last night we gave up three consecutive rebounds that turned into eight points. When you play in a league like this and when many games are close, those are the things that swing the games one way or another. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to make the plays we need to make.”
Iowa State will try to finally make those late game plays against a new look Kansas team.
Last season, the Jayhawks were led by guard, Lauren Aldridge, who averaged 11.1 points per game. However, she graduated this off-season. With her departure, guards McKenzie Calvert and Jessica Washington have taken over the leading roles after not seeing the floor at all in 2015-16. On the season, they are scoring 14.8 and 13.5 points per game respectively.
While Kansas is led by new faces offensively, its defense is looking like the normal Jayhawks that the Cyclones are accustomed too.
“They are very aggressive defensively,” Fennelly said. “They try to turn you over. They turned Texas over 31 times the other night. But for us, running our offense against them is always hard. They do a lot of switching and make sure to take you out of what you want to do.”
The good thing for Iowa State as they prepare for Kansas is that they rarely never over the ball, as the Cyclones only average 12.4 turnovers per game.
Bill Fennelly has a saying, “Focus on the next 40 minutes.” While he uses that phrase for every game, his players are using this quote as motivation more than ever heading into Sunday.
According to Seanna Johnson, the team believes it has not been aggressive after the last media timeout, which typically occurs with four to five minutes left in regulation.
“If we go hard for 40 minutes, the outcome will be a lot different than the last three games,” senior guard Seanna Johnson said.
Since Iowa State is currently 0-3 in conference play, this game against Kansas could be seen as a “must win” contest. However, Fennelly isn’t a “must win” type of coach.
“The only game you have to win is the game that you have to win to continue your season,” Fennelly said. “It’s a huge game obviously. When you are 0-3 and coming back home, you need to go out and win a game. You know, if we win the game or lose the game, there is still 14 to go”
After the Texas Tech loss, Fennelly hinted at possible lineup changes. When asked about the possibility, Fennelly stated that he doesn’t know for sure who is going to start against Kansas but he was adamant that it won’t be the same starters as last game (Jadda Buckley, Bridget Carleton, Seanna Johnson, Heather Bowe and Meredith Burkhall).