Iowa State set to take on familiar foe in its first Big 12 tournament game


Miranda Cantrell/Iowa State Daily

Freshman guard Seanna Johnson drives the ball down court during the game against the Texas Longhorns at Hilton Coliseum Saturday, Feb. 22. After a slow start, the Cyclones offense picked up and went neck-and-neck with the Longhorns until they hit a 13-0 run to pick up the lead. Freshman guard Seanna Johnson looks to score during the game against the Texas Longhorns at Hilton Coliseum on Saturday, Feb. 22. After a slow start, the Cyclones offense picked up and went neck-and-neck with the Longhorns until they hit a 13-0 run to pick up the lead. They took the win 81-64, putting Iowa State at 18-8 and 7-8 in the Big 12.

Dylan Montz

When the ISU women’s basketball team takes the court at the Big 12 Championship on March 8, it will be facing something it hasn’t been up against all season.

Now in postseason play, if the Cyclones (20-9, 9-9 Big 12) don’t come up with a win, they will be headed home. What the ISU coaching staff has been trying to instill in the team leading up to the tournament is to do everything it can do because pretty soon there isn’t a next game.

“One of the things we talk about is being at your best when your best is needed. This is the time,” said ISU coach Bill Fennelly. “You don’t want to walk out of any building in an elimination situation thinking, ‘I could have done more, should have done more.’ That starts with how you practice and how you travel, the mindset of ‘I refuse to lose.'”

Iowa State will be taking on Oklahoma State, a team it has seen recently. The No. 5 seeded Cyclones played on the road against the No. 4 seeded Cowgirls on Feb. 26, getting an 86-69 win.

Playing a familiar team for the third time this season, preparation done by the coaching staff doesn’t have to start from scratch. With Oklahoma State being in a top-20 team nationally, Iowa State is better off in Fennelly’s mind than it was for the last game a couple weeks ago.

“It’s fresh in the kids’ minds, and you don’t have a lot of time. The less you have to throw at them, probably the better,” Fennelly said. “Especially this time of year, less is more. Because we’ve played them recently will be a big help, and when we mention stuff, we can get through it maybe a little bit quicker.”

In the matchup in Stillwater, Okla., Iowa State connected on 15 3-pointers, shooting 41.7 percent from deep. This time around, the Cyclones are prepared for the possibility of those open looks to be taken away, but they feel like they have a lot of places to turn for scoring the ball.

“We have Hallie [Christofferson] inside, we have Hallie outside, we have Jadda [Buckley] and Nikki [Moody] that can attack and shoot. We have Seanna [Johnson] that just gets rebound after rebound and creates more opportunity on offense,” said junior guard Brynn Williamson. “There’s so many different factors that go into our offense that it kind of makes [it] hard for teams to guard that way.”

If defenders are guarding the 3-point line tighter in the upcoming game like Iowa State anticipates, Moody doesn’t see it as an opportunity being taken away. She simply sees it as another one presenting itself.

“It opens up the lane mostly with them rushing our shooters and then penetrating and sometimes kicking it back out,” Moody said. “We can go opposite and get shots that way.”

When preparing for Oklahoma State, there will be some minor tweaks because it’s a new situation, but not a lot can be done, Fennelly said, because every team has gone through the entire regular season and has found what works best for them at this point.

“We’ve all played 29 games, and there’s no 10-day contracts and we’re not adding anyone. You are who you are now,” Fennelly said. “Now it’s, ‘Can somebody do something.’”

Tipoff between Iowa State and Oklahoma State is set for 11 a.m. March 8 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.