WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Cyclones take care of Bulldogs ‘Iowa State Way’

Iowa States Alison Lacey, 4, and Amanda Nisleit, 32, try to block the shot of Drakes Monique Jones, 45, on Thursday at Hilton Coliseum. Photo: Josh Harrell/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State’s Alison Lacey, 4, and Amanda Nisleit, 32, try to block the shot of Drake’s Monique Jones, 45, on Thursday at Hilton Coliseum. Photo: Josh Harrell/Iowa State Daily

Matt Gubbels

ISU women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly talked Sunday about how his team needed to recommit to playing the Iowa State way after a blowout loss to Iowa.

Thursday night against Drake, the Cyclones (6-2) did just that, especially on the defensive end and on the glass.

Iowa State held the Bulldogs (5-3) to only four points in a 17-minute stretch at the end of the first half and beginning of the second half, outscoring Drake 31-4 in that stretch. The Cyclones outrebounded their in-state foe 37-23 on the night in a 65-52 win at Hilton Coliseum.

“We knew after the Iowa game that we didn’t play Iowa State basketball and we knew that we had to refocus and come in and play for the name on the front of the jersey,” senior Heather Ezell said. “It came down to the basics and taking pride in our defense.”

Fennelly said that despite the slow start, he was happy with the team effort throughout the game.

“The last 25 minutes was about as good as we can play,” Fennelly said. “In the second half, we were real efficient, and when we defend the way we should we do a pretty good job.”

Seventeen of the points during that run came from senior forward Nicky Wieben, who had a game-high 19 points and nine rebounds off the bench. She was joined in double figures by fellow senior Amanda Nisleit with a career-high 18 points. Ezell had nine points and seven rebounds as well.

“Once our defense started going, our offense came along with it,” Wieben said.

Nisleit and Wieben, along with Kelsey Bolte, were not in the starting lineup for the first time this season. Denae Stuckey, Ashley Arlen, Heather Ezell, Jocelyn Anderson and Alison Lacey opened the game for the Cyclones.

Nisleit and Wieben’s performances helped Iowa State hold an 18-6 advantage in second-chance points. The Cyclones also had eight players score in the game, while Drake only had four.

“I want to commend Nicky, Amanda and Kelsey Bolte with how they handled not starting,” Fennelly said. “That was a true Iowa State effort on their part.”

Iowa State got off to a slow start, turning the ball over on its first five possessions and not scoring until Ezell hit a three at the 16-minute, 30-second mark of the first half. Drake led for nearly the entire first half, even taking a 10-point lead with four minutes to go.

“We were a little slow on defense and let them get a couple of second chances,” Ezell said. “Their three best players hurt us a lot in the first half, and coming out of halftime we decided we were going to stop them.”

That was when things started to turn around, however. A jumper from Toccara Ross broke a three-minute scoring drought, as the Cyclones scored the final six points of the first half. Iowa State also scored the first 11 points of the second stanza to take a 36-29 lead.

“We probably played four or five different defenses during that time and were changing when they changed personnel,” Fennelly said. “In some of the games, we’ve had a hard time adjusting to that on the fly, but we certainly did a great job of it tonight.”

The Cyclones eventually stretched the lead to their biggest of the game at 50-33 before the Bulldogs were able to put together back-to-back baskets for the first time since the first half.

“It was definitely a tale of two halves,” Drake coach Amy Stephens said. “[Iowa State] was much more aggressive on the offensive end in the second half.”

This was also Iowa State’s first home game since Nov. 16 against UMKC. The game starts an eight-game homestand for the Cyclones. Iowa State returns to Hilton Coliseum on Sunday to play Detroit Mercy at 2 p.m.