Here’s the good news folks…other than the dominating score I witnessed tonight. Well, actually there is lots of good news. First, I made it back home and the snow didn’t catch me until about 10 miles out. Good timing on my part. Have to admit it does look rather pretty. But I digress… The good news…I’m going to have to nitpick tonight to find negatives to talk about. Yes, there are a few, but this was one of the most dominating and complete games the sisters have played this year. This performance in any game so far this season spells victory. More good news…the knee tweak hasn’t stilled Pop’s aggressive nature. It slowed her down a bit on defense, but look out…the fiery red-head means business when she’s on the floor. Final bit of good news to start with…Jess’s injury isn’t supposed to be serious. More on that later. This game started off rather rough for both squads. You could tell that the ladies had been off for finals week as the defense seemed to be a bit slow. UNI had obviously studied tape of what others had done to ISU and effectively employed some pick and roll action that left us standing in our tracks. We failed to either help out or when we did we didn’t switch leaving a person open. Fortunately this wore off and the ladies got down to business. One thing was certain…the refs were sucking on their whistles for much of the first half. This game was physical from the get-go. ISU suffered from some initial cold shooting as UNI enjoyed their only leads of the night early on. When our shooters started to heat up inside and out this ball game slowly but surely started getting away from the Panthers. Before you knew it, the score went from 10-10 to 25-13. It never really got better for the Panthers. Even with this score I didn’t feel comfortable. I knew they had come back on North Dakota after being down 16. We were making mistakes. Here is one of my nitpicks. We had several errant throws, missed the front end of a couple of 1-1 opportunities, and missed some bunnies underneath. No, we can’t be perfect, but taking advantage of those mistakes would have made this an early rout. By halftime the lead had grown slightly to 16 at 46-30. Keep in mind this UNI team was holding their opponents to an average of 55 per GAME. The second half was just a bone crushing romp. Before UNI knew what hit them our ladies in red had rolled to a 14-4 run to extend the lead to 60-34. The game was all but over. Except…it would get worse for the Panthers. Our ladies were doing everything right…or close to it…tonight. How about shooting over 50% from three before the subs came in? How about leading the boards 41-13 before the bench was cleared? Even after that ISU ended up dominating 50-20. For the first time this year, our ladies hit a decent percentage of free throws. Yes, we did leave behind some 1-1 opportunities (I consider those to be turnovers), but nearly 74% is one of our best efforts. Still want to see it hit 80%. Keep in mind a couple of those misses were by subs late in the game. With about 7 minutes left in the game ISU held a huge 30 point lead (we had 80 points with 7 left!!!) and the subs started to get some valuable playing time. My observation is that everyone on this team has bought into the defensive schemes hook line and sinker. There was no slack off no matter who played. The offense for both sides was far from pretty the rest of the way as only 11 total points were scored in those final 7 minutes. The player of the game was Pop. She had a double – double by halftime. She was pounding the boards. She was making quick moves to the basket when she got the ball and scoring. When she was double or triple teamed she fed our outside shooters who were – GASP – making shots. To give you and idea of where Pop’s focus is her first comment in the postgame was “how many turnovers did I have?” She wants to keep getting better rather than being satisfied with 20 points, 14 boards, and 4 assists. I have to talk about someone who I have decided is the freshman version of Pop. The mini-me of our team. Except, she’s not so mini. Fallon Ellis is out of the same mold as Pop. She has a banger body. She hustles. She rebounds. She powers to the basket. Her shots are starting to fall and tonight she took advantage of every minute she played. How about 10 points, 2 boards in 8 minutes of play? That’s great bench play folks. I lost a little more hair tonight watching Moody play as she made a couple of her usual bone headed freshman mistakes. But I realized something tonight. Like a good quarterback, she doesn’t let the mistakes rattle her. She shrugs them off and keeps going. Perhaps her worst mistake of the evening (nitpicking again) was right before half as we had the ball and the opportunity to get the last shot. She attempted a cross court pass that ended up as a turnover and led to a UNI basket right before the buzzer. She made great passes tonight. She scored. She LED this team. 15 points, 5 assists, 2 blocks (yes, blocks) and 2 steals. Four turnovers were the only downside. Solid point guard play. And as I’ve said before…she likes to run. She’s quick. She made hustle plays for rebounds and steals. She kept UNI from running by hitting second gear to get back on D. Love it. You have to mention Chas play tonight. She has been rock steady the past few games. Only 1 turnover tonight to go with 5 assists. Fantastic defense. What impressed me was her hustle for the boards. How about 7 of those little buggers? Anna got some quality minutes tonight and while scoring in double figures, she clearly lacks the aggressive nature of Pop. She still goes up rather timid in comparison. Still, it was nice to see her out there hitting a 3 and making her free throws. Can’t wait til she is in full game shape. She did get called for a flagrant foul in the second half. I think it was more to do with her being 6’7” turning into a player a foot shorter. That elbow to the face couldn’t have felt good. Jess. In street clothes tonight. Thought it might be her shoulder, but it’s her back. Fortunately we didn’t need her tonight and she gets some extra days to rest. Hope she gets well quickly! Big-C. She is really struggling on offense. She seems to be afflicted with the same lack of strength Prins suffers from. Plays very solid D, but she hasn’t found her offense of late. Her length is invaluable on defense though. Have to have her on the court. So that’s it folks. We saw a fantastic defensive and offensive performance by our sisters. They put their foot on the throat of the opponent and pushed harder. While Bill had his moments, he was rather tame on the night. He still has a list of things to work on and only two more non-conf games to refine this team before the nasty January schedule arrives. If tonight’s game is any indication, there is hope and lots of possibilities with this team. If they continue to hit from the outside, they could be very dangerous. Very dangerous. I think that and free throws will be the key. I fully expect top level defense. I expect Pop to dominate inside. We just have to keep doing what they did tonight and as Johnny Orr would say, “woooo eeeee, coach…that’s a hum dinger!” We may just have a hum dinger on our hands. We’ll know very soon. Have a Merry Christmas everyone. See you next week.