Three Big Takeaways: Cyclones combat subpar shooting with solid defense

Emily Ryan reaches up to defend the hoop against Omaha on Nov. 9 in Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones won their season opener 65-38.

Andrew Harrington

Iowa State women’s basketball did not put on a great shooting performance or dominate in the paint on Tuesday.

Despite this, the team was able to get a win in the season opener thanks to defensive efforts.

Iowa State Head Coach Bill Fennelly said that there is a lot to work on, despite winning 65-38 over the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Poor shooting performance

As is the case for many basketball teams that play in the first game of the season, Iowa State went through a few long scoring droughts during the game.

Fennelly was not fazed by the team’s performance, mentioning that shooting the ball well is not the only way to win at the game of basketball.

“Now you’ve got to find another way to win. Our starters only had four turnovers, we defended well and I thought we rebounded okay,” Fennelly said. “That’s the great thing about basketball is you can find other ways to win besides just making shots.”

Lexi Donarski shot 6-12 from the three-point line to begin the season, with all of the other Cyclones combined for 4-27.

The Cyclones’ star player Ashley Joens, who was playing on a bad ankle, was a big part of the Cyclone struggle, shooting 4-16 from the field and 3-9 from behind the arc.

Wing defense

Fennelly was very impressed with the play on the defensive side of the ball from perimeter defenders Donarski, Emily Ryan, Denae Fritz, Nyamer Diew and Joens.

While these players receive a ton of praise for what they can do on offense, they also have each shown flashes of doing great on defense.

Ryan put on the strongest performance on Tuesday, tying a school record with nine steals along with three blocks.

“We’re going to play teams that are better than Omaha, but still it’s a college game,” Fennelly said. “You hold someone to 38 points, that’s a good thing. I think we have five perimeter defenders that can guard people.”

Posts play their roles

The three Cyclone post players combined for 13 points and 13 rebounds during the game, which are not major numbers by any means, but Fennelly said that this is all that is needed from them.

All that the staff is asking from the posts is that they play solid defense and box out long enough for someone to secure a rebound.

“They’ve got to be like offensive linemen. You don’t get enough credit; the only time people call your number is when you do something wrong. They have just got to be the people that eat up 40 minutes, defend, rebound, make layups, don’t turn the ball over and allow our other kids, who right now are more experienced, more capable of scoring, to do that,” Fennelly said.

Omaha went with a strategy of playing multiple posts at the same time, feeding them for the majority of the game. Although bigs Mariah Murdie and Elena Pilakouta led the Mavericks in scoring with 15 and eight, the play of Morgan Kane, Izzi Zingaro and Maggie Vick met the expectations of Fennelly.