AMES — There was a moment of silence prior to Wednesday night’s Cy-Hawk women’s basketball game.
Fans of both teams were buzzing before and after, as another loud, rivalry atmosphere took over the arena leading into Iowa’s 75-69 win at Hilton Coliseum.
The break in the noise was dedicated to Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly’s father, William “Bill” Fennelly, who passed away early on Wednesday morning.
“First of all, I don’t want to take away from what Iowa did,” Fennelly said. “They won the game. The story should be the Iowa women’s basketball team and their effort tonight. I get my family situation is involved. It was a hard day, obviously.”
“These are tough days, but I’ve been blessed. My dad was 86 years old. He lived a phenomenal life. I’m sure he’s yelling at me for not calling timeouts sooner and why I didn’t sub [someone] like he always does.”
Fennelly continued, and his press conference can be found in full, below.
Under the leadership of Fennelly, Iowa State had won 10 straight Cy-Hawk games at Hilton going into the 2017 matchup with Iowa.
After Wednesday night’s loss, the Cyclones have dropped the last two home bouts and the past four overall in the series.
“This one was special,” senior post player Ines Nezerwa said. “We had a chance to play them in Hilton. I told myself that I needed to do everything I could to impact this team and it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough today.”
Nezerwa was one of a pair of Cyclones that stood out, despite the loss to their in-state rivals.
She finished the game with 18 points and 10 rebounds, earning her first career double-double. However, it didn’t matter to her.
“If it was a double-double, it doesn’t [matter],” Nezerwa said. “We lost this game.”
The other Cyclone that showed out with one of her best games was Iowa City native Ashley Joens.
The sophomore racked up 26 points, 12 rebounds, and drew 10 fouls in the process – a game-high between either team.
Her performance, however, wasn’t enough to push Iowa State to a win.
“They’re just tough defenders,” Joens said. “They stayed up on us, guarded us hard, and we had trouble scoring.”
Iowa was led by seniors Kathleen Doyle and Amanda Ollinger thanks to their dominating performances on opposite ends of the stat sheet.
Doyle finished with 21 points and shot 10-of-12 from the charity stripe, making some key shots down the stretch to push the Hawkeyes to victory.
Ollinger only finished with two points and fouled out in the final minute of the game. She did, however, earn a game-high 20 rebounds.
“Amanda Ollinger rebounded everything she needed to tonight,” Fennelly said. “She got every rebound she wanted.”
The Hawkeyes also got 20 points out of Monika Czinano and another 18 from Makenzie Meyer.
They had a few breaks go there way, as well.
A sophomore in Tomi Taiwo came off of the bench and earned a critical nine points for Iowa. She had been averaging 2.0 points per game coming in.
“That’s the frustrating part about basketball,” Fennelly said. “They had a kid that came off the bench to make three [3-pointers] that had [only] made one all year. That’s to their credit. Their bench was really good. Ours was not. They’re a senior-dominated team that played like seniors.”
Fennelly pointed to the start of the fourth quarter when the lack of experience for the Cyclones came out.
Iowa State had ended the third quarter on a 7-0 run to tie the game at 48-48 going into the final, 10-minute frame.
“We tied the game,” Fennelly said, starting to describe the sequence of events. “We have the ball. We run a play that’s open and make the wrong decision on the pass.”
Joens ended up with the ball near the rim but saw a layup roll off of the rim.
Iowa’s Czinano would get a bucket on the other end and Joens would miss another layup on the ensuing trip down the court.
“We miss back-to-back layups and got confused on two inbounds plays,” Fennelly said. “Next thing you know, you’re down by seven.”
Taiwo had made another three.
It forced Iowa State to call a timeout and was the beginning of the end of the game.
“I think that was a moment where our inexperience in key roles started to show a little bit,” Fennelly said. “We kind of got caught watching [Joens]. The shots that we got, we couldn’t make.”
Iowa would hold a two-possession lead for the rest of the game to eventually finish off the win.
The loss dropped Iowa State to 6-2 this season and gave Iowa a 9-6 lead in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series.
But, there was more to it on Wednesday.
“This rivalry can get a little bit over the top, but [Iowa’s staff] couldn’t have been more gracious,” Fennelly said. “I know you have to say and write what you do, but the focus should be on what Iowa women’s basketball did tonight, and not on my family.”