Cyclones come from behind to win in a thriller

Dean Berhow-Goll

DES MOINES — With 10:27 left while down 50-37, Iowa State looked dead in the water.

Then something clicked. The Cyclones (2-0) clawed back from that deficit and after some clutch free throws at the end of the second half, they were able to survive a thrilling game at the Knapp Center as they defeated Drake 71-64.

“I’ve been asking this team to play the ‘Iowa State way’ and I thought we did that the last 10 minutes down 13 on the road,” said ISU coach Bill Fennelly. “We were lucky to survive against a good team that had great playing.

“This is one of those games that, hopefully down the road at the end of the season, you look back on that changed our season a little bit.”

The Cyclones’ offense seemingly came out of nowhere. 

Freshman Brynn Williamson hit a 3-pointer and caused a turnover on the next possession. Then, with junior Chelsea Poppens converting an old-fashion three-point play and Williamson draining another three, the deficit was cut to three as momentum the Bulldogs had worked all game for was gone.

After Drake (2-2) had its biggest lead of 13 with 10:27 left, Iowa State went on a 17-0 run that grew to a 21-5 run that ended the game at 71-64.  

“I feel like we just found our energy,” Poppens said. “Brynn hit a few shots that really got us going, we got excited and the momentum kept going.”

For Iowa State, it was a tale of two halves. In the first half, the Cyclones shot 25 percent from the field and only managed five total buckets. They were bailed out from that by converting from the charity stripe, making 14-of-18 free throws compared to the Bulldogs’ 3-of-6 mark. 

In the second half, the Cyclones were one point short of doubling their first-half total.

The Cyclones shot 55.6 percent from the field and banged four threes after not making a single one in the first half. Poppens went 6-of-9 in the second half and had 16 of her 18 points in the second half. 

It was no secret that Drake came to play. On the defensive end in the first half, Iowa State could not stop Drake’s offense.

Junior Stephanie Running was on fire, making nine of her first 11 shots. She had 18 points in the game, which more than doubled her previous career-high of eight points.

When asked about how much of his game plan he devoted to Running, Fennelly joked, “Obviously not enough.” 

True freshman Kyndal Clark had 15 points on the night, hitting three 3-pointers, and senior Rachael Hackbarth had 15 as well, making four shots from the field and seven from the free-throw line, and she pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds. 

The Cyclones were led by a foursome on the offensive end. Poppens led with 18, freshman Nikki Moody had 16, Jessica Schroll had 13 and Hallie Christofferson had 11 with her first career double-double. Williamson also came off the bench to hit two big 3-pointers as well. 

The defining moment of the game was when Jessica Schroll, who typically isn’t a big 3-point shooter after making only four threes last season, took a deep breath and hit a three that made it a three-possession game at 67-59 with 53 seconds to go. 

“My teammates were teasing me a little bit because I took a deep breath,” Schroll joked, “and it just went in.”

The Cyclones will be back at Hilton Coliseum on Sunday. Tipoff against Northern Arizona is set for 5:30 p.m.