WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Cyclones aim to bounce back against Red Raiders

ISU guard Alison Lacey chaces after a loose ball against Nebraska on Jan. 9. The Cyclones face Texas Tech on Wednesday. Photo: Logan Gaedke/Iowa State Daily

Logan Gaedke

ISU guard Alison Lacey chaces after a loose ball against Nebraska on Jan. 9. The Cyclones face Texas Tech on Wednesday. Photo: Logan Gaedke/Iowa State Daily

Jordan Wickstrom

Just days after a tough 73-67 loss, the 22-ranked Cyclones (16-4, Big 12 4-3) will try to rebound against the Texas Tech (13-7, Big 12 1-5) team, which hasn‘t won a game in Ames since Jan. 19, 2002.

The Red Raiders will enter Hilton with a modest 13-7 record but with just one win against a Big 12 opponent. Putting aside the poor conference record, coach Bill Fennelly still expects a difficult game because of the Red Raiders having such a harsh first half in their conference schedule.

“[Texas Tech] had a very similar start to their Big 12 schedule as we did,” Fennelly said. “They lost to Oklahoma twice and took Oklahoma to the wire Saturday. They lost to Texas in a double overtime. They lost to [Texas A&M] close. They had a bad game against Nebraska — so did we.”

Wednesday’s game may also prove an important game for Iowa State due to the Cyclones’ tough second-half conference schedule. After Texas Tech, the Cyclones will play Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma State and Nebraska, which lost to teams like Texas and Oklahoma by a combined nine points.

“This is when it’s crunch time. The season is at the end point, it’s the second half of our season,” said senior guard Denae Stuckey. “I mean, it’s a big part of us because we play our most challenging games, because we’re playing all the Big 12 conference teams. It’s very challenging, but we’re just going to have to be tough.”

Despite Texas Tech’s rough schedule, the fact remains they are still 1-5 in the conference. And with teams like Texas (Big 12 3-3), Oklahoma (Big 12 5-2), Nebraska (Big 12 6-0) and Oklahoma State (Big 12 6-1) all playing each other Wednesday night, the Cyclones will have a perfect opportunity to gain ground in the conference standings.

“I think we’re both in a situation where you’re searching for wins, and certainly it’s an important game for us to be back at home,” Fennelly said. “You’re at a time now when any streak you have you don’t want it to be a negative one, you don’t want to get on a two- or three-game losing streak. It’s not like November, where there’s plenty of time left [for improvement].”

Winning at this point in the season will definitely play a part in where the Cyclones could be seeded in some post season tournaments. And if the Cyclones want to continue their success this season and make a push for one of the top seeds in the Big 12 tournament, they will need to continue to play strong defensively.

With the exception of Kansas State’s Ashley Sweat, the Cyclones have held most of their opponent’s star players in check, holding Kansas’ Danielle McCray, Nebraska’s Kelsey Griffin, and Oklahoma’s Danielle Robinson and Nyeshia Stevenson well below their season averages in scoring.

Wednesday’s game will be no different. Iowa State will have its hands full trying to contain a trio of Texas Tech players who have combined to average nearly 38 points per game, or almost half of Texas Tech’s total points per game.

“Jordan Murphree is a senior player that’s had a great career and is coming off a 28 point game [against Oklahoma], Ashlee Roberson is an athletic kid that’s a hard guard at the four-spot. We’ll have trouble with her and then [sophomore forward Kierra Mallard] in the post are the three that’s going to be involved in their offense,” Fennelly said.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum.