Women head into the home stretch

Matt Gubbels

The ISU women’s basketball team was staying right with 19th-ranked Texas A&M, down just 10-9 with 13:32 to go in the first half.

Over the next ten minutes, however, the Cyclones’ wheels fell off.

The score went from 10-9 to 30-9 as the Aggies went on a 20-0 run to put the game essentially out of reach. Texas A&M shot 9 of 18 and corralled nine offensive rebounds during the run, while Iowa State shot 0 of 7 and committed five turnovers.

Coach Bill Fennelly said the key to the game may have been those offensive rebounds.

“When we had shots, we missed them – and we didn’t get an offensive rebound in the first half,” Fennelly said. “When you put those two things together and you’re not getting to the free throw line, it is tough to score.”

Iowa State held Texas A&M’s leading scorer, Takia Starks, to four points, but Danielle Gant scored 22, picking up eight of those during that first-half run. The biggest downer for the Cyclones may have been the two 3-pointers hit by Sydney Colson, who had shot 8-of-46 over the season coming into the game.

Fennelly said the Cyclones were going to allow Colson to shoot, but she thwarted that plan by stepping up, hitting the shots.

“You combine that with some offensive rebounds and some not-real-good offensive play and you get behind on the road against a good team,” Fennelly said. “We get into the second half and we’re down single digits, so we kept playing – I was very impressed.”

Sophomore point guard Alison Lacey said the Cyclones were not enough aggressive enough on Wednesday.

“We need to run our plays a little faster and a little harder,” Lacey said. “Everyone needs to look for a shot, because we can’t rely on dribbling the ball for the whole shot clock and hoping for a screen and a shot.”

Home sweet Hilton

Iowa State will finish up a stretch of four ranked opponents in a row on Saturday with the ninth-ranked Baylor Bears at home, which could be a big positive.

Baylor is 22-3, but is playing away from the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas, where they are undefeated this season.

Fennelly said having the game at home is better, but Baylor is good no matter where they are playing.

“To be quite honest, I hope it stays cold,” Fennelly said. “I hope they get off the plane feeling like I felt when I got off the plane last night.”

Junior Heather Ezell said the Cyclones will need all the help they can get from the home crowd with such a good team coming.

“As many fans as we can have – that’s going to help us as much as possible,” Ezell said.

Baylor has lost its last two away games and is coming into Hilton Coliseum, where the Cyclones are 12-3 this season.

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said having to go on the road after a week off is a tough thing to do. The Bears’ last game was on Sunday.

“You always welcome a bye, yet at the same time you’d rather your next game be at home than on the road after your bye date,” Mulkey said.

Televised game causes much earlier start

Saturday’s game will be televised on Fox Sports Net, which will force Iowa State to attempt something new.

The decision to televise the game moved the start time to 11 a.m., making the game the first time the Cyclones will have to take the floor before noon.

Fennelly said having a home game against a top-10 opponent televised makes it worth it all.

“Those are the games you remember as an athlete and a coach,” Fennelly said. “We won’t have to wait long – just get up and play. Most of them should be awake by then.”

Ezell said the team has to come out ready to go despite the early start.

“I’m not an early person, but I will make sure I’m an early person on Saturday,” Ezell said.