Lacey, Nisleit give women hope

Matt Gubbels

ISU women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly said last week his team needed to become more efficient offensively, especially late in games.

His players heeded his words Wednesday night at Missouri.

The Cyclones (17-10, 6-8 Big 12) trailed 52-50 with 4:05 to go after Missouri guard Alyssa Hollins hit her fifth three-pointer of Wednesday’s game, but scored eight of the last 10 points to pick up a crucial 58-54 win.

Junior forward Jocelyn Anderson answered Hollins’ shot with a layup to tie the game. Sophomore point guard Alison Lacey then gave the Cyclones the lead for good a minute later with a three from six feet behind the line.

“The girl had her hands down, and I had an open look,” Lacey said. “The shot clock was running down so I figured, ‘Why not?'”

It wasn’t the first time Lacey has taken a shot from well behind the three-point line, and Fennelly said the coaches sometimes ask her to stop.

“The line she was closest to was the line standing out of bounds next to me,” Fennelly said. “She can do that once in a while, but I think the difference was she had a lot of room to do it because I don’t think they believed she would shoot it from that deep.”

After an exchange of free throws and a missed 3-pointer by Hollins, Anderson iced the game by drilling two free throws.

Junior guard Heather Ezell said it was nice to finish a game like that, especially with some of the struggles the team has had in those situations recently.

“Last night, we were able to hit some shots when it really mattered,” Ezell said. “[Anderson’s] two free throws were huge – it really helped us in the win.”

Nisleit helps team despite injury

Last Saturday, junior forward Amanda Nisleit hobbled out of Hilton Coliseum on crutches and was ruled doubtful for the game Wednesday.

She found a way to play 14 minutes, however, and Fennelly said Nisleit’s effort to get back on the court sent a message to her teammates.

“She wanted to play and she wanted to help in some way,” Fennelly said. “Just emotionally, having her out there calmed some people down.”

Nisleit scored only one point, but that point extended the Cyclone lead in the last minute.

“Even if she isn’t scoring, just her presence makes our team better,” Ezell said. “Even having her there for the minutes she was there really helped.”

Nisleit said missing practices is what’s bothered her the most about the injury.

“My ankle is getting better each and every day,” Nisleit said. “Hopefully, now I can get some practices under my belt.”

Last home game, but no senior day

For most college basketball programs, the last home game of the regular season is senior day.

This Saturday, however, there will be no senior day for the team. Toccara Ross, the team’s lone senior coming into the season, should be eligible for a medical redshirt after her season-ending ACL injury on Dec. 21.

Fennelly said this is only the second time he can remember not having a senior day.

“It’s really not a bad thing because sometimes senior night can become so emotional,” Fennelly said. “I think it’s something that will probably make the game a little more normal.”

The Cyclones have won their last five home finales.

“We are just focusing, one game at a time,” Nisleit said. “Basically, every game we are looking at, we have to try to win.”