Women's Basketball

WBB: Cyclones must respond to loss in road game at K-State

Rae Johnson

Four games in 10 days.

That’s what stands between the Iowa State Women’s Basketball team and the start of the postseason.

The first being a road trip to Kansas State on Wednesday (6:30 p.m. ESPN+) – to square off with a team tied with the Cyclones for fourth place in the Big 12, currently.

A quick glance at the standings will give you Iowa State thrown in with a hodge-podge of close records, headlined by the Texas Longhorns in third at 8-6.

The reason Wednesday is so big is that the Cyclones still have hope – and maybe a favorable shot – at ending the regular season as the No. 3 seed, which would give them a much more feasible path to a second straight conference championship game.

One that doesn’t include a 15-0 Baylor.

“I think that as you look at the standings, with the exception of Baylor and TCU, three through ten is pretty open,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “It makes it fun. What you try and do is, you’re fortunate enough to play well against Kansas State, you get a tiebreaker with them and you gain a game on (everyone else).”

The path for the Cyclones got a bit harder following the tough loss to Texas Tech, which would have put them in a tie for third, had they flipped that to a W.

However, it’s still possible that Iowa State can get the third spot.

The Cyclones will face West Virginia and Baylor at home, with road games at both Kansas schools in their last four games.

If they can make 3-1 happen, and Texas drops two of its last four, it’s likely that Iowa State will hold the tiebreaker.

“Players respond a lot quicker (to losses) than most of us,” Fennelly said. “They move on a lot quicker than coaches, fans and media people. They get their post-game meal and they’re on to the next one. I’m not overly worried about that.”

The response will be especially felt from junior Rae Johnson.

Johnson was called for the foul that gave Texas Tech three free throws at the end of Sunday’s game, but has been playing at a higher level since she came off a minor injury at the start of the month.

“We’ve got to move on and fix our mistakes,” Johnson said. “We have a lot to look forward to. In the past, we’ve stuck together really well, and I don’t doubt this team at all.”

Johnson had one of her best games against Texas Tech, tallying 17 points for the Cyclones.

With her injury behind her, Johnson will look to give her team a spark on Wednesday. That scoring is something Iowa State would absolutely take when they go into Manhattan against the inside presence Kansas State has.

“The thing with Kansas State, is they have a really good, dynamic post game,” Fennelly said. “Ayoka Lee is going to be (Big 12) Freshman of the Year. They’ll probably name the award after her. I think she’s been Freshman of the Week every week, but one or two. It’s ridiculous.”

On the other side of the paint is a senior in Peyton Williams that knows how to give Iowa State trouble.

She led the Wildcats in their loss at Hilton in January and the pair combined for 27 points.

“Peyton Williams is a senior that has got one of those senior motors,” Fennelly said. “She’s been willing to move from the low post to maybe away from the basket more. They rebound. They impose their will on the post. They like to control the tempo of the game… but it’s going to start with can we, in any way, shape or form, handle what they do to us on the inside?”

It gets going tonight at 6:30 p.m. and the die-hard Cyclone fans might be watching more than just one game.

Big 12 WBB Standings
4Iowa State 15-107-7
5Kansas State13-127-7
6West Virginia16-106-9
7Texas Tech16-95-9
8Oklahoma State14-125-9
9Oklahoma  12-145-9

Upcoming Big 12 Schedule
Wednesday, February 26
6:30 p.m. | Iowa State (7-7) @ Kansas State (7-)
6:30 p.m. | Texas (8-6) @ TCU (11-3)
7:00 p.m. | Texas Tech (5-9) @ Oklahoma State (5-9)
7:00 p.m. | Kansas (2-12) @ Oklahoma (5-9)