Carleton, Cyclones defend home court against Drake

Iowa State senior guard Bridget Carleton takes a free throw against Drake on Sunday at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones won, 86-81.

Aaron Marner

The Iowa State women’s basketball team spent the offseason getting back to basics.

A 14-17 record, and a 7-8 record at Hilton Coliseum — the first losing home record in coach Bill Fennelly’s tenure as Iowa State’s head coach — signaled a chance for the Cyclones to focus on the simple things. Namely, protecting home court.

“If that [home record] doesn’t upset you — and you can fill in the blank, I’ve use stronger words with them — then you don’t belong here,” Fennelly said. “You don’t belong in that locker room.”

Against Drake on Sunday, the Cyclones won by a final score of 86-81, equaling their seventh home win of the 2018-19 season. That ties last year’s win total at Hilton Coliseum.

“We talked about it more than we probably should’ve,” Fennelly said. “I had a big poster made of our home record every single year and when you look at it … where you can visually look at 15-1 at home, and then what we did last year — I’m not a big goal kind of person, but I have pounded it in their head that we are going to be a better home team.

“We talk about it before the game, during the game, after the game, every day after practice, to the point where it’s probably overkill.”

Iowa State now sits at 7-0 at Hilton Coliseum with wins over No. 24 Miami, a 7-2 Arkansas squad and now Drake, which received the most votes out of any unranked team in the latest AP top 25 poll.

Fennelly said he talked with seniors Bridget Carleton, Alexa Middleton and Meredith Burkhall in the offseason about protecting home court. They bought in and have been key in spreading that message to the rest of the team.

It showed on Sunday, when Carleton dropped 31 points (11-of-22 shooting), eight rebounds, four assists and four steals.

“We knew our record at home,” Carleton said. “We made it a point of emphasis that we don’t wanna lose at home. I think that’s huge for our team. We have one of the best environments in college basketball so that’s really exciting obviously.”

Along with Carleton’s huge night, the Cyclones got strong performances from freshman Ashley Joens and sophomores Kristin Scott and Madi Wise.

Joens put together an efficient 16 points, going 7-for-8 from the floor and adding three rebounds. She also didn’t turn the ball over.

Scott and Wise were the other two Cyclones to reach double-figures. Scott had 11 points off the bench (4-of-8 shooting) and added seven rebounds. Wise had 10 points, three rebounds, three blocks, two assists and two steals.

The win didn’t come easy, as Drake led by as many as 10 points and held a 27-19 lead after the first quarter. The Bulldogs hit seven 3-pointers in the first period but were 5-of-18 over the final three quarters from beyond the arc.

Iowa State has two more home games before the start of Big 12 play on Jan. 2, 2019. The Cyclones will take on Prairie View A&M on Wednesday, looking for an eighth-straight home win.