Iowa State will try to end West Virginia’s eight-game win streak

Iowa State senior Madison Wise grabs a rebound against the Texas Longhorns on Jan. 23.

Megan Teske

For the first time this season, Iowa State women’s basketball will take on the No. 21 West Virginia Mountaineers.

With the Cyclones already getting into the latter half of their schedule, Iowa State is already done with three teams — Kansas State, Texas and Baylor — before it has gotten the chance to play all teams in the conference.

In their last game played Sunday, the Cyclones fell to Baylor 85-77, a loss Iowa State Head Coach Bill Fennelly attributed to rebounding — mainly offensive rebounding.

Fennelly said in the games where Iowa State has struggled, giving up offensive rebounds has been a huge struggle, with the Cyclones giving up 23 of them to Baylor on Sunday.

“Our guards have to rebound better, and I think that’s the number one thing that we have to clean up,” Fennelly said. “We’re not going to be a great rebounding team, our size prevents that, but we’ve gotta be better, and if you look at the games that we’ve struggled, that has probably been the number one thing that has caused us to not have success.”

Fennelly said the will and the want to go after the ball is there for the team, but sometimes they just get caught watching other players go after the ball.

Iowa State senior guard Madi Wise said the team has to learn from its rebounding struggles it had against Baylor.

“We have a lot of heart so just getting in there, rebounding, getting boards is gonna be huge for us,” Wise said.

Wise said the guards will have to come in and rebound as well, so having all five players getting in to rebound will make up for the size disadvantage.

Despite some of the Cyclones’ struggles in the game against Baylor, Fennelly said they did plenty of good things they can build off of for the game against West Virginia.

“I think the good things were we didn’t turn the ball over a lot, we made shots, we made free throws,” Fennelly said. “Offensively, I thought we were really good for the most part. You score 77 on Baylor, that’s a good outing, so I think that was encouraging.”

Fennelly added that the team showed a competitive spirit and resiliency in the game against Baylor that he was proud to see.

Iowa State was also able to get to the line often Sunday, going 23-24 on free throws. The Cyclones are shooting 82.5 percent from the free-throw line so far this season.

Fennelly said West Virginia is a very good defensive team, similar to Baylor, and physical, so the good news is they won’t have to change the game plan completely, but the bad news is they’re going against another great team on the road.

“We’ve been for the most part a pretty good free-throw shooting team, and it’s the one area of the game where the other team is not guarding you,” Fennelly said. “People talk about 3-level scoring, we talk about 4-level scoring. You got inside, midrange and 3s, well, you also have free throws, and that’s a huge part of what we want to do.”

Fennelly said they have to do a better job of driving the ball basket to finish and draw fouls and that they did that well a few times against Baylor but sometimes stepped back rather than drawing a foul.

West Virginia is currently on an eight-game winning streak, including a seven-game conference winning streak.

Fennelly said you have to understand what your team does well, and Iowa State is focusing more on what they can control.

“The biggest thing when you go on the road [is] what travels,” Fennelly said. “Toughness travels, resiliency travels, a competitive spirit travels … you don’t know what’s going to happen when you go on the road necessarily, but you can control certain things.”

Wise said they know the Mountaineers are on a seven-game conference win streak, but Iowa State takes every game seriously, and they are just going to control what they can.

“I think we take every game pretty seriously and just knowing that every team is going to give us a run and just coming in ready to play,” Wise said. “… knowing that they’re going to be a tough team to beat, especially on the road … bringing the defense with us and just hopefully that translates to good offense.”

Iowa State will try to end West Virginia’s streak at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Morgantown, West Virginia. The game will be available to watch on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.