Women strike gold with uniform change Sunday

Matt Gubbels

The ISU women’s basketball team was looking for a way to change things up after the roller-coaster season the team’s has been through.

Not only did the Cyclones not have a pre-game shootaround for the first time all year, they also made a change in attire. For the first time this season, the Cyclones (16-8, 5-6 Big 12) wore their alternate gold uniforms when they played Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Sunday.

The change came up golden, as Iowa State defeated the No. 15 Cowgirls, 62-57, to earn its second straight win at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

“Hopefully we’ll break them out on Wednesday,” freshman guard Kelsey Bolte said. “I think they gave us a little bit of luck.”

Bolte will get her wish, as coach Bill Fennelly told reporters Monday the Cyclones will be in gold again for their game at Texas A&M on Wednesday, but there is no superstition behind the switch.

Sophomore guard Denae Stuckey said the jersey change sparked the team a little bit.

“I think a few of them were superstitious about it, but it’s mainly about who is wearing the jersey,” Stuckey said.

Junior guard Heather Ezell said the discussion before the game was about how long it had been since the team had worn the gold uniforms.

“After the game, we said, can we wear them every game now and let’s ride them ’till the end,” Ezell said.

5-foot-8-inch Stuckey seals game with offensive rebound

When Iowa State led Oklahoma State by three with just three seconds left in Sunday’s game, Stuckey was the second shortest of the 10 players on the floor at just 5 feet 8 inches.

Stuckey, however, was able to seal the victory for the Cyclones when she snagged an offensive rebound after sophomore point guard Alison Lacey missed the second of two free throws and put it back in to seal the final five-point scoring margin.

Stuckey said she was surprised to get the carom as easily as she did.

“My thought was, if [Lacey] misses it, just go get it,” Stuckey said. “As soon as I got it, I thought about it and put it back up. I just knew I wanted to win that game, just like the rest of my teammates.”

Fennelly said aggressively attempting to deny opponents a free-throw rebound is something he has seen his team practice, and it came into play beautifully against the Cowgirls.

“There is three seconds to go and you’ve got to rebound and go, and they all took off,” Fennelly said. “Denae made a great effort, but I honestly think they [the Cowgirls] forgot they had to get the ball first.

“There was no one around her; it was bizarre – it was like the hidden ball trick.”

Big 12 could get nine teams in NCAA Tournament

Not a single conference in the last five years has gotten nine teams into the NCAA Tournament or 11 teams into the postseason in the same season.

Judging by mock brackets, such as Charlie Creme’s “Bracketology” on ESPN.com, this is definitely possible for the Big 12 Conference this season. As of Feb. 11, Creme had eight teams from the conference – including Iowa State – in the big dance, and Kansas as one of the first four teams out. Kansas defeated Colorado and Nebraska at home this week.

“Too bad they’re not picking the tournament or on the committee,” Fennelly said.

Fennelly also said one of the usual criteria is finishing with a .500 conference record, which Iowa State would have to go 3-2 down the stretch to do.

“I don’t know if that’s the case,” Fennelly said. “I would be absolutely stunned if a 7-9 team in our league doesn’t make the NCAA Tournament.”

The Big 12 has nine teams in the top 50 of the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), according to Realtimerpi.com, which is used to help award at-large berths to the tournament, and two others – Texas Tech and Colorado – are in the top 100. The Big 12 is also the toughest conference in the nation according to the RPI.

Stuckey said it is great to be playing in games with this much riding on them late in the season.

“The best part about it is knowing that we have a shot to go to the NCAAs to make our season even more successful than we already have,” Stuckey said.