Cyclones eye another win over in-state rival Northern Iowa


Iowa State guard Lexi Donarski claps during No. 15 Iowa State’s 77-70 win over No. 12 Iowa on Dec. 8 in Hilton Coliseum.

Andrew Harrington

A pair of red-hot women’s basketball teams in Iowa State and Northern Iowa are set to meet up for in-state rivalry clash on Sunday in Hilton Coliseum.

Previously taking down Drake and Iowa, the Cyclones are looking to complete a season sweep of in-state opponents. The last time Iowa State has earned this accomplishment was during the 2013-14 season, and the Cyclones are determined to get back on top.

Head coach Bill Fennelly takes a lot of pride in these matchups, mentioning that they mean a lot to not only to the fans, but are also very important to the players and coaches.

Fennelly also believes that this week will be the most mentally draining of the season for the players, dealing with a variety of stressors.

“This is one of the hardest weeks of the year for our team. They are thinking about Christmas, it’s the last week of school before finals, you are playing two in-state games,” Fennelly said. “I have a lot of respect for how our kids have handled this.”

Iowa State enters the game coming off of a huge win in the Cy-Hawk game; however, Northern Iowa comes in riding a three-game winning streak. These three wins include a 40-point win over St. Thomas, a nine-point win over South Dakota State and a 76-point win when facing Graceland.

Leading the charge for the Panthers is senior all-around guard Karli Rucker. Averaging 12.8 points per game on efficient percentages along with being a solid playmaker, Rucker will pose a challenge for the Cyclone defense.

Fennelly plans to have Lexi Donarski defend Rucker after her strong defensive performance against Caitlin Clark of Iowa.

“When Karli Rucker plays well, that team is really, really good,” Fennelly said. “I hope [Donarski] gets a good night’s rest the night before because she is going to need it.”