AMES — The Iowa State women’s basketball team’s goal at the start of the season is always to make it to the NCAA Tournament. But after a rough start in the Big 12, the Cyclones’ dreams to make the tournament were looking bleak.
On Wednesday, the Cyclones beat Texas Tech to start the week heading in the right direction.
On Saturday, West Virginia was up next as the Cyclones topped the Mountaineers 68-53 to help bolster their postseason hopes.
“It was huge,” said ISU guard Jadda Buckley. “Obviously, (Iowa State) has to get wins to make the NCAA Tournament. Especially sweeping West Virginia, that’s really going to help us in the long run.”
Fennelly was asked if the win over the Mountaineers helped the Cyclones’ tournament chances. He answered the question by mentioning his son and assistant coach’s, Billy, favorite movie: “Dumb and Dumber”.
“So you are telling me there’s a chance.”
Both wins over the Mountaineers were done in similar fashion: suburb defense.
“I thought defensively we were pretty good,” Fennelly said. “Montgomery is a pro. She is a hard cover but I thought Heather (Bowe) and Mere (Burkhall) did as good as they could. We tried to make Martin a volume shooter.”
It was the little things that the Cyclones were doing on defense that helped win so comfortably, according to Fennelly
“We kept people in front of us and we didn’t have that many live ball turnovers,” Fennelly said. “I thought for the first time in a while we had some people who had recovered and helped. Bridget (Carleton) had a couple of block shots. TeeTee (Starks) takes a charge. We struggled with our secondary defense, when we get beat off the bounce. I thought we were much better, kind of like football. Everybody ran to the ball and group tackled.”
Fennelly also saw Iowa State’s “Big Three” (Buckley, Bridget Carleton and Seanna Johnson) as another reason why the Cyclones won so convincingly. Buckley scored 20 points while Carleton and Johnson both chipped in 16 points apiece.
While Iowa State could feel happy about this win over West Virginia, the Cyclones are focused to finish out their season strong to further boost their tournament dreams.
“We need to win the games we know we can win,” Carleton said. “Going to Kansas, we have to play well. We have to play well in all of the games to complete the Big 12 season and the Big 12 tournament is going to be important. So, we have to bring our best every day, that starts at practice and hopefully it translate to the court.”