Iowa State to face Auburn in preseason WNIT semi-final game


Chris Jorgensen/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State senior Bridget Carleton sizes up the defense during the first half against Southwest Baptist on Nov. 1.

Jack Shover

After winning its first two games of the Preseason WNIT tournament, Iowa State finds itself in the semifinal game of the tournament against Auburn.

The game is set to tip off at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Iowa State is sitting at a 2-0 record after beating Niagara 95-35 and Northern Illinois 70-60.

In the WNIT, Auburn beat Nicholls State 80-59 and New Mexico 79-76.

Auburn was projected to finish eighth in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) out of 14 teams.

In two games this season, Iowa State has been averaging 82.5 points per game while holding their opponents to 47.5 points. For three games, Auburn has been averaging 85.3 points per game and holding its opponents to 61 points.

In Auburn’s only game outside of the WNIT, it beat Grambling State 97-48.

Auburn is led by guard Janiah McKay and forward Unique Thompson.

Against New Mexico, McKay tallied 19 points on 6-12 shooting and added six assists and five rebounds. The 6-foot-3 Thompson recorded a double-double with 19 points and 19 rebounds.

On the other hand, Iowa State is led by Bridget Carleton, who was an Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American last season.

This season Carleton has almost notched a triple-double in Iowa State’s first two games and has been averaging 17.5 points, 14 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 2.5 blocks and 1.5 steals a game.

After Iowa State’s win vs. Northern Illinois, coach Bill Fennelly said Iowa State had the best player in the game in Carleton.

Because of her prowess in dominating in multiple aspects of the game, Carleton has been named to the Wooden Award watchlist, Cheryl Miller Award watchlist and, most recently, the Naismith Award watchlist.

Carleton said she believes Iowa State has many offensive weapons aside from herself.

Before the game vs. Northern Illinois, Carleton said to the team that it is impossible for Northern Illinois to guard them with all of the shooters and post players Iowa State has on its roster.

Fennelly said after Iowa State’s game vs. Northern Illinois that he wants Iowa State to average four double-digit scorers a game, but so far this season there has only been Carleton and one other player in double-digits each game.

Against Niagara, the only other double-digit scorer with Carleton was freshman Ashley Joens, who had 16 points. 

Against Northern Illinois, it was Madi Wise, who scored 12 points.

So far this season, Iowa State and Auburn have been dominate off of the glass, averaging 49 rebounds per game for Iowa State and 46.7 rebounds per game for Auburn.

Where Iowa State can separate from Auburn, is its 3-point shooting and shot blocking.

In its three games, Auburn has been shooting 27 percent from long range this season, while Iowa State has been shooting 34 percent.

“It’s fun to play with all these girls because we can all shoot the ball, we can all put up points, hit 3-pointers,” Carleton said after Iowa State’s win vs. Northern Illinois.

While Iowa State has the ability to shoot the three, the team has struggled with consistency from long range.

In the preseason, Fennelly said the team’s 3-point shooting was a concern.

Against Niagara, the team shot 39.1 percent from three, but in the next game against Northern Illinois, the Cyclones’ 3-point percentage dipped to 29.2 percent.

“I think offensively we are a team that can score. Obviously, we are missing too many easy shots … We’ve got to be more aggressive,” Fennelly said.

Defensively, Iowa State averages 7.5 blocks per game, while Auburn averages 4.3.

With a win vs. Auburn, Iowa State will vault itself into the WNIT Championship game to face off against the winner of Marquette and Miami.