Iowa State redshirt junior guard Jadda Buckley rushes down the court past Oklahoma freshman guard Chelsea Dungee at the women’s basketball game on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, at Hilton Coliseum in Ames. Photo by: Lani Tons
Over the past four games, the Iowa State women’s basketball team has claimed three wins, with its lone loss coming at Kansas State. With the Cyclones’ sights set on making the NCAA Tournament in March, tonight’s game (7 p.m.) at Kansas is critical.
As Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly put it, the Cyclones’ recent success has been thanks to a combination of players.
“This time of year, every team is going to rely on their best player,” Fennelly said. “I think Seanna (Johnson), Jadda (Buckley) and Bridget (Carleton) have really played well.”
Although, Fennelly credited a substantial proportion to Iowa State’s “Big Three” for its current play, he stressed that guard Emily Durr has been possibly the biggest reason for the Cyclones’ recent groove.
In the Iowa State’s first meeting with Kansas this season, Durr had a breakout game. She tallied 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting and four rebounds against the Jayhawks.
As of late, Durr hasn’t been the scoring threat Iowa State needs her to be. She was 1-of-8 against West Virginia on Saturday and 2-of-7 against Texas Tech on Feb. 15. However, Durr has looked to contribute in other aspects of the game to help the Cyclones to victory.
“I’m doing more little things,” Durr said. “I’m not shooting great. I’m trying to find other ways to help the team. Play better defense, get assists or get rebounds. I’m just becoming more multi-dimensional.”
While Iowa State may not expect much scoring out of Durr against Kansas, Fennelly and company will look to get forward Heather Bowe going against the Jayhawks. Bowe had her best game of the season against Kansas. She scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. The Cyclones expect to use her frequently against the Jayhawks, thanks to mismatch she presents.
“Kansas is probably a team that doesn’t have…kind of like us, they aren’t overpowering in the post,” Fennelly said on Bowe’s mismatch. “There might be opportunities there for her to score. Hopefully, we can get another performance like that out of her because she was very, very good (against Kansas the first time out).”
Not only will Iowa State be focused to get Bowe going offensively, it is focused to try stop Kansas guard, Jessica Washington.
The first time around, Iowa State held Washington to a mere four points (she currently ranks third in the Big 12 in points per game at 16.9). But Fennelly sees her as a Russell Westbrook type player who can greatly impact the game.
Although the Cyclones are focused on the task at hand, the players have had talks about ESPN’s latest “bracketology,” which has Iowa State as one of the first four out teams.
If Iowa State wants to get on the right side of the bubble, it must stick to its formula against Kansas.
“We are playing the way we need to play to win,” Fennelly said. “That’s making shots, be a little bit better defensive rebounding and get to the free throw line and don’t foul the other team. It sounds like a simple formula, but that’s the formula we have had to use this year and at least lately, it has been proven to be successful.”