Going for seven straight wins, Iowa State faces tough test against TCU

Razorback Senior Malica Monk takes a free throw during the Cyclone/Razorback game on Dec 2 at Hilton Colosseum. Cyclones won 91-82.

Spencer Suckow

Winners of their last six games and 2-0 to start Big 12 play, the Iowa State women’s basketball team is rolling.

Since losing to Iowa over a month ago, the No. 20 Cyclones have seemingly found their stride and have taken their game up a notch. This is especially true on the offensive end, as the team has averaged 88.5 points per game during its six-game winning streak. The team’s lowest scoring output came during their last game against Kansas, where Iowa State still managed to score 82 points.

Some of that can certainly be attributed to scheduling, as Iowa State has played five of the six games at home, where the team is 10-0 to start the year. However, the biggest factor that one can point to has been the increased production from key players; namely Bridget Carleton, the team’s All-American.

Several players have certainly stepped up their game over the last month, but it’s Carleton that’s somehow managed to become even better than what she already was. So far in conference play, Carleton is averaging 29.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists, while maintaining a shooting percentage of 58.3 percent.

It’ll be hard to maintain that kind of stat line, but her improvements this season likely will have her in the conversation as a potential Wooden Award finalist. When asked about her play of late, Carleton attributed the success to the team as a whole feeling more comfortable with one another.

“I think it’s just getting used to playing with everyone,” Carleton said. “We’re getting good looks, we’re shooting well from the field and I think that’s just a credit to the shots we’re taking and our point guards and coaches putting us in great positions to get good looks.”

Carleton and the rest of Iowa State may have a harder time finding good looks on Wednesday night, however, as TCU comes to town. The Horned Frogs, who currently sit with an 11-2 overall record and a 1-1 record in conference play, are one of the stingier teams that Iowa State has played to date.

Currently, TCU is allowing a mere 51.8 points per game and outscoring their opponents by an average margin of 18.4 points. The Horned Frogs have also only allowed one team, their most recent opponent in Oklahoma State, to score more than 70 points this entire season. Last season, Iowa State averaged 59 points in two games against TCU.

“Their defense is maybe the most unique in the league,” Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said of TCU. “They’re going to play man, they’re going to play zone, they’re going to do every press you can think of. Ultra aggressive, ultra physical, and we’re going to have to handle it a lot better than we did last year.”

Offensively, the Horned Frogs are led by their own star senior. Center Jordan Moore enter Wednesday’s game averaging 16.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that Moore’s scoring averaging is being achieved while shooting over 67 percent from the field.

It’s obvious, then, who’s going to be carrying the load for the Horned Frogs when they come to Hilton on Wednesday. According to Fennelly, the team will try different approaches to take away Moore, but even that might be a struggle because of the senior’s experience.

“We’re going to try a lot of different things,” Fennelly said. “I think with all good post players, you have to change it up. Especially seniors, they know when the double is coming and when it’s not coming.”

Fennelly continued by adding that a focus on limiting mistakes against Moore will be the key to limiting her impact.

“I think the biggest thing is, whenever you get into these kind of games, take away what you can,” Fennelly said. “Don’t commit a silly foul, don’t give up offensive rebounds. You know, things that you can control a little bit. (Moore) averages what she averages for a reason, and you’re not going to take that away from them, but it can’t be 26 points.”

One of the players that will be tasked with defending Moore will be sophomore Kristin Scott, who herself has drastically improved throughout the season. Last year, Scott’s playing time and impact were minimal, as she adjusted to life as a major conference basketball player.

This year, however, Scott has been a major force off the bench for Iowa State, averaging nearly 12 points and seven rebounds per game in an average of only 20.8 minutes. According to Scott, that freshman season, while tough at times, played a crucial role in her development and helped her to adapt to the Big 12’s physical play.

According to Scott, that experience should play a big role as she and other try to limit Moore’s impact, as Iowa State tries to remain perfect on its home floor.

“The physicality was definitely a big step for me, being a freshman,” Scott said. “I kind of know how Big 12 play is this year, and we’re going to watch film and do a scouting report on that. Usually when we follow the defense well on the scouting report, we stop one person and then that just leads to stopping another.”