ISU women’s basketball to face numerous challenges in game against Iowa


Blake Lanser/Iowa State Daily

Senior forward Hallie Christofferson celebrates after her teammate scores a point for the Cyclones on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 24, in Des Moines. The Cyclones won against the Drake Bulldogs with a final score of 89-47.

Maddy Arnold

Just one year ago, the game against in-state rival Iowa ended in tears for then-junior forward Hallie Christofferson and sophomore guard Nikki Moody.

The then-No. 22 Cyclones traveled to Iowa City in early December last season to play the unranked Hawkeyes. The ISU late-game comeback was not enough to defeat Iowa, and Iowa State suffered its only nonconference loss.

This season, the Cy-Hawk rivalry game will be played in Hilton Coliseum on Thursday. No. 17 Iowa State (7-0, 0-0 Big 12) will play No. 21 Iowa (10-1, 0-0 Big Ten) with the hopes that the rivalry game will end differently this year.

“Coming off last year when we lost on the road — when we struggled defending at the beginning of the game, things like that — I think it’s going to be a big game all around,” said junior guard Brynn Williamson.

Iowa began last season’s game with a 14-0 lead. It was almost seven minutes into the game before Iowa State scored a point. Moody made a 3-pointer with 13:09 remaining in the first half to give the Cyclones their first points.

“We didn’t play very well, obviously. It’s tough to start two touchdowns behind. It’s 14 to nothing,” said ISU coach Bill Fennelly. “It’s like they return to opening kick off; we fumbled it; and they ran it in the end zone.”

Moody was not allowed to start in the game against Iowa. She was suspended for the first five minutes for being late to class. But she was not the only Cyclone who lacked playing time against the Hawkeyes.

Then-senior forward Chelsea Poppens — Iowa State’s leading rebounder last season — did not play in the 50-42 loss to Iowa after suffering a concussion.

Just like last year, the upcoming game against the Hawkeyes will have its own obstacles to overcome for the Cyclones. Iowa State has struggled with injuries in recent weeks.

Williamson missed the game against Cal State Fullerton last Sunday, Dec. 8, due to a head contusion. She was back at practice this week and is expected to play against Iowa.

Iowa State, however, will be without sophomore forward Madison Baier, who averages more than 10 minutes a game, after she tore her ACL against Cal State Fullerton. She is expected to miss the rest of the season.

“Obviously, if Maddie’s not playing and Brynn’s not playing, I don’t like where our team is,” Fennelly said. “But I think overall, we’re doing the things to give ourselves a chance to win.”

In addition to overcoming the loss of Baier, Iowa State will be challenged with Iowa’s high-powered offense. The Hawkeyes’ offense is ranked 19th in the country in points per game, averaging more than 83.

The Hawkeyes scored 95 or more points in its previous three games with points coming from all across Iowa’s roster. There are five Hawkeyes averaging double-digit points this season.

“All the offensive numbers are very good,” Fennelly said. “They have a lot of people that they can put on the court that can score a big number and that’s rare. That’s really rare in our game. They probably have five or six kids on a given night [that] can put up 20 points.”

One key to slowing down Iowa’s offense for Iowa State will be freshman guard Jadda Buckley. She leads Iowa State in steals this season with 13.

Buckley said her “passion” lies in defense so this year’s high-scoring Iowa team should be a good match up for her first Cy-Hawk rivalry game.

“We just have to get out on the shooters and make sure we’re aware where they’re at all times,” Buckley said. “I think we can match up pretty well with them. We just got to recognize where they’re at all times and not get lost out there.”