Cyclone women win basketball season opener


Photo: Zhenru Zhang/Iowa State Daily

Cyclone Kelsey Bolte attempts to shot over Western Illinois’ Brittany Demery on Saturday at Hilton. Cyclones won 58 to 32.

Kelsey Jacobs

With 25 points from the lone Cyclone senior Kelsey Bolte, Iowa State passed its season-opening test Saturday against Western Illinois, beating the Leathernecks 58-32.

Bolte, who said she hasn’t been shooting well lately, drilled all six of her 3-point attempts, with three of them coming in the first four minutes of the game.

“We’re lucky Kelsey Bolte is on our team,” said coach Bill Fennelly. “When you’re a senior you want to do everything right and start off in a phenomenal fashion, and she certainly was the reason we won the game.”

Despite Bolte’s hot streak coming off the bench, the Leathernecks high-pressure defense stifled the Cyclone offense early, keeping the competition close throughout the first half.

Iowa State started the game 4-of-7 from the field, which slowly turned to 9-of-22 at the end of the half. The Cyclones also suffered from poor shooting from the free-throw line, at one point hitting just 5-of-11.

Iowa State went into the locker room with only a five-point lead at 31-26.

“We needed to adjust a little bit,” Fennelly said. “When you miss some free throws and you miss some shots early, you panic a little bit.”

The Cyclones did manage to adjust, and they were all about defense during the second half. They stepped up the pressure and kept the Leathernecks from scoring during a 15-minute drought.

Western Illinois ended the second half with only six points.

“It’s just frustrating for them when we play good defense, and it really helped us a lot,” said sophomore Chelsea Poppens. “It makes them off, especially when the clock runs out. That’s just really frustrating, so I think we did a really good job, especially the second half.”

Although Bolte’s 25 points kept the Cyclone offense afloat, Poppens also contributed with eight rebounds and nine points. Freshman Hallie Christofferson also racked up eight points and five rebounds during her first start as a Cyclone.

Lauren Mansfield, the first non-returning Cyclone to start her first game at point guard since 1997, had only two points but helped out with nine assists.

The Leathernecks’ highest scorer was Valencia Kelly, who had 11 points.

Despite the Cyclones’ poor start in the first half, they can mark their season-opening game in the win column. They have to move on quickly, as their next matchup comes against Drake on Monday night.

The last time the Cyclones faced their in-state rival, the team gave up 78 points — more than it gave up even against the University of Connecticut last year during the NCAA Regional Semifinal.

“Last year [against Drake] was probably the lowest point of our season,” Fennelly said. “We got out-hustled, we got out-coached, everything. The three games you play against in-state teams are the hardest three games on your schedule because of the emotion involved.”

To up the ante, a win against Drake would mark Fennelly’s 500th career win.

Although the Cyclones lost to the Bulldogs 78-75 last year, the team isn’t necessarily looking for a revenge game.

“We just don’t want to get beat,” Bolte said. “Especially in front of our fans and the great crowd we have. We want to come out on Monday and play as hard as we can.”

The Cyclones will take on Drake at 7 p.m. in Hilton Coliseum on Monday.