Iowa State to take on Niagara in first WNIT game


Katlyn Campbell/Iowa State Daily

Redshirt senior Alexa Middleton looks for a teammate to pass to during the game against the Winona State Warriors at Hilton Coliseum on Nov. 4. The Cyclones won 73-39.

Jack Shover

Iowa State’s game versus Niagara on Friday at 12 p.m. will be Iowa State’s game in the preseason WNIT Tournament.

Last season, Niagara finished 13-18.

In an exhibition game, Niagara lost to St. Bonaventure 76-48.

The WNIT is an invite-only preseason tournament. Teams can only participate once every four years, and only one member of a conference can participate each year.

If Iowa State beats Niagara, Iowa State will face the winner of Yale and Northern Illinois.

Against Niagara, coach Bill Fennelly said the team will be starting the same starting five as in the first two exhibition games: Alexa Middleton, Bridget Carleton, Ashley Joens, Mere Burkhall and Madison Wise.

Middleton has been on a minutes restriction of 20 minutes a game due to her coming off of a knee issue, so Iowa State will experiment with Carleton and others at point guard.

Among those figuring to get a shot at point guard is junior point guard Jade Thurmon.

Last season, Thurmon played basketball at the JUCO level before transferring to Iowa State.

Since coming to Iowa State, Thurmon said she has had to change from a score-first mentality to take the role of a distributor.

To be a better distributor, Thrumon said she has focused on slowing the game down and using her fundamentals to find shooters.

Speaking of shooters, Iowa State has struggled shooting from three. In the last two exhibitions, the Cyclones shot lower than 30 percent from three.

Among the first players off of the bench in Iowa State’s exhibition were Adriana Camber and forward Ines Nezerwa.

After Iowa State’s second exhibition game, Fennelly said he needs Iowa State’s forwards — Nezerwa included — to finish shots around the rim.

Against Winona State, Nezerwa shot 3-9 from the field.

“I know I can do much better for this team, especially offensively,” Nezerwa said.

While Middleton’s minutes will remain the same as in the exhibition games, Fennelly said to expect to see more of Carleton.

Fennelly said the nature of the preseason WNIT tournament is similar to late season conference play, as the games are close enough together that the teams scouting on opponents is limited.

If Iowa State hopes to make a run to make the NCAA tournament, early season experience for a roster full of young and new players will prove invaluable.