Women's Basketball

WBB: Cyclones face, ‘Next team up,’ in tough Arkansas team

The Iowa State women’s basketball team will be put in a spot they haven’t experienced yet this season going into their matchup with Arkansas at 2 p.m. today.

The Cyclones will be coming off of a loss.

Last time out, Iowa State was downed by South Dakota 64-59, suffering its first loss on the season and dropping to 5-1 on the year.

The Cyclones shot 4-16 from downtown and 6-25 from the field in the first half in Vermillion before sparking a near 19-point comeback victory in the fourth quarter. At the end of the day, they were three points away from tying the game, but missed the shot that would have knotted things up.

“I think we need to mentally prepare and build off of that fourth quarter,” forward Madison Wise said. “We started really poorly and didn’t play well at all, but [we need to] just build off of that quarter and fight through it.”

Now, Iowa State will try to bounce back at Hilton Coliseum.

The Cyclones are taking on an Arkansas team that has won three of its last four games in a 5-2 start to the season.

“If you look at their numbers, it’s shoot it quick, [grab an] offensive rebound,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “So, our on-ball defense better be really good and our defensive rebounding better be really good.”

Arkansas comes into the game with one of the highest scoring trio’s in both the SEC and women’s basketball. The Razorbacks are led by Chelsea Dungee – who averages 16.3 points per game – and also get support from Alexis Tolefree and Malica Monk who average 13.4 and 13.0 points per game, respectively.

Arkansas is headed by one of the top coaches in women’s basketball as well: Mike Neighbors.

In four seasons with Washington, Neighbors took a program that hadn’t been ranked in 10 seasons to a Final Four in just four years at the helm. Not to mention, he never failed to reach the postseason in his time there.

He was later hired to coach his alma mater at the beginning of 2017.

“We joked about how we both have our dream jobs [right now],” Fennelly said. “He grew up in Arkansas and has wanted to coach the Hogs his whole life. I grew up in this state and always wanted to be here. He’s going to do a great job there. I think he’s already turned the corner on what they’re doing.”

Sunday’s game is a part of the Women’s Big 12/SEC Challenge – a 10-team series consisting of 10 teams from each conference facing off with each other.

The series is in its third season of action, and the Big 12 currently holds a 2-0 lead following the pair of games played on Tuesday.

“We’re not just representing Iowa State this weekend,” Fennelly said. “We’re playing for the Big 12 Conference too. These are little things, but when you start looking in March for quality wins in your league, it could be important.”

In their two appearances, the Cyclones have not won a game in the series.

The schedule isn’t getting any easier after this game for the Cyclones, however. The South Dakota game marked the start of a tough, five-game stretch that included the Coyotes, a trip to No. 14 Iowa, and a matchup against No. 16 Drake at Hilton.

“We knew coming into this year that our non-conference schedule was going to one of the more difficult [schedules] we’ve had here in a long, long time,” Fennelly has said previously. “It’s proven to be that way so far, and it’s only going to get harder.”

Sunday’s game against Arkansas will tip off from Hilton Coliseum at 2:00 p.m. The game will be televised by Cyclones.TV

Connor Ferguson

editor

Connor will be covering women’s basketball for Cyclone Fanatic during the 2018-19 season. He is currently a junior enrolled at Iowa State and is studying journalism at Iowa State’s Greenlee School of Journalism. Connor also covers a variety of sports around the state of Iowa, including Indoor football and motorsports for Last Word on Sports. He also appears on-air four times a week covering high school football for 1460 KXnO, college football for his own podcast, and professional sports for 88.5 KURE – Iowa State’s student radio station.