Cyclones’ 3s not enough to defeat Baylor


Forward Chelsea Poppens puts up a shot against Baylor on Saturday, Jan. 7, at Hilton Coliseum. Poppens grabbed eight rebounds and had two points and two assists.

Caitlyn Diimig

Very few things can put a smile on coach Bill Fennelly’s face during the middle of a game.

Against No. 1 Baylor (31-0, 18-0 Big 12) on Saturday, Fennelly’s face lit up when junior Chelsea Poppens hit a 3-pointer — the only 3-pointer of her career.

“I would say the first half was so fun, and to even see Chelsea Poppens hit her first three,” said junior Anna Prins after the game.

The Cyclones challenged the Lady Bears’ undefeated record and Poppens’ 3-pointer ended the half and tied the game 32-32.

It looked like Iowa State (18-11, 9-9) was going to do the unthinkable: break the No. 1 team in the nation’s undefeated record.

But the unthinkable was just that and Baylor kept its perfect record intact as the Cyclones fell flat in the second half, losing 77-53 in Waco, Texas.

Iowa State was doing everything right in the first half and a positive frame of reference may have had something to do with it.

“In these kinds of games, knowing that you’re playing the No. 1 team in the country, you just have to go in knowing you’ve got to be competitive but also have fun,” Prins said.

Iowa State remained competitive by working the perimeter.

The Cyclones average the most 3-pointers in the Big 12 with 7.34 and they used this to their advantage during the first half.

Working the perimeter, the Cyclones were able to stay away from the nation’s most dominating post player, BU junior Brittney Griner.

“It’s a huge pleasure for me to play her,” Prins said of Griner. “She makes me better every time. Tonight, I was very impressed with her footwork and it was very challenging for me to guard.”

Griner ended the night with a career-high 41 points, well above her average of 22 points per game.

Griner scored more points than the rest of her teammates combined.

“[Griner’s] not just a tall kid,” Fennelly said after the game. “She’s a basketball player, a great basketball player. Her footwork is good. Her timing is good.”

After a brief lead by Iowa State in the second half, Baylor put on the press and Iowa State could not find the basket.

“We were playing at Iowa State’s pace as they were hitting 3s all over the floor and penetrating,” said BU coach Kim Mulkey after the game.

Iowa State went from a 40 percent 3-point shooting percentage in the first half to just 20 percent in the second half.

“Their defense picked up; they did a great job and we panicked a little bit,” Fennelly said. “When you panic against a great team and you’re not making shots, it’s tough.”

Iowa State will begin Big 12 tournament play at 11 a.m. Thursday in Kansas City, Mo. The Cyclones are seeded fourth and will play Kansas State.