‘Hard year’ ends with first-round loss to UW-Green Bay


Photo: Nicole Wiegand/Iowa State Daily

Senior guard Lauren Mansfield tears up while giving a senior night speech following the ISU women’s basketball team’s victory against Kansas State on Wednesday, Feb. 29, at Hilton Coliseum. Mansfield finished with 13 points in her last home game for the Cyclones, who won by a score of 57-33. 

Caitlyn Diimig

No one likes to lose.

No one likes to lose by 14 points in the NCAA tournament on a national stage in their home venue to a team that is not as well-known.

“There really were no answers for some of the things we did wrong,” said coach Bill Fennelly.

Iowa State lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to seventh-seeded UW-Green Bay 71-57 on Saturday to mark the official end to its season.

After the game, the players sat hunched over. Their eyes were red and a box of tissues was passed around.

“I think we dug ourselves into such a big hole going into halftime that we couldn’t get out of it,” said freshman Brynn Williamson. “We tried to come together, but it just didn’t work in the end for us.”

But the loss came for a team that, at the start of the season, didn’t look like it would even make it to the NCAA tournament in the first place.

Iowa State went 0-5 in its first five conference games, but battled back to tie for fourth place in the Big 12, a conference boasting the defending champions Texas A&M and No. 1 Baylor.

Iowa State even left halftime of its last conference game tied with Baylor — an uncommon feat.

Other flashes of brilliance for the Cyclones included junior Chelsea Poppens.

Poppens was named to the All-Big 12 first team unanimously and earned a WBCA All-Region 5 nomination.

Poppens will join the 1,000-point club at Iowa State when she scores her first point next season and will be the 23rd Cyclone to do so. 

Freshman Nikki Moody was selected to the Big 12 All-Freshman team as well.

With the loss against Green Bay, seniors Chassidy Cole and Lauren Mansfield said goodbye to the Hilton Coliseum court for good.

“I tell all the seniors down the stretch, ‘Leave a piece of you behind,’” Fennelly said.

Fennelly said the seniors did some good things in some tough situations and he appreciated their effort this year.

“To say you played basketball at Iowa State means something, it really does,” Fennelly said. “Hopefully for Lauren and [Chassidy], it’ll mean something to them too.”

Sophomore Hallie Christofferson said she would miss the seniors among other things.

“I think each season you really remember the seniors and you’re going to remember playing with them and playing Iowa State basketball,” Christofferson said.

Fennelly said that he’s looking forward to the next season.

“It’s been the hardest year I’ve ever had for a lot of reasons and really my health isn’t the big one,” Fennelly said.

Fennelly is receiving treatment for throat cancer, which was announced last October.

“Coaching is hard and it makes you think about things,” Fennelly said. “You invest everything you have into something and it abruptly ends. I don’t know if we finished this [season] the way we should have.”

Fennelly said he would be evaluating a lot of things for the next season.

“It’s a great sense of pride to be in the NCAA tournament six years in a row,” he said. “But we’ve got to find ways to be better.”