Cyclones show strength against No. 24 Miami, cut down nets

Senior guard Bridget Carleton drives the ball down the court during the game against Auburn at Hilton Coliseum on Nov. 13.

Aaron Marner

It didn’t take long for Iowa State to make No. 24 Miami uncomfortable in Sunday’s WNIT championship game at Hilton Coliseum.

The Hurricanes (4-1, 0-0 ACC) took a 5-0 lead to start the game. Senior guard Alexa Middleton splashed a 3-pointer to get the Cyclones (4-0, 0-0 Big 12) on the board after a short drought to start the game, and Iowa State never looked back, winning 75-52.

“They were connected; they were dialed in,” said Miami coach Katie Meier. “They were talking through our player tendencies in a very mature and meaningful [way].

“That was big. That’s great preparation by Iowa State.”

The Cyclones had struggled with consistency in their previous two games. Against Northern Illinois, Iowa State led by as much as 18 in the second half before seeing its lead dwindle to eight with 5:10 to play.

In the next game against Auburn, the Cyclones were outscored 16-7 in the third quarter and gave up a 10-0 run in the final three minutes to allow Auburn to tie the game, before senior Bridget Carleton ultimately scored the winning basket in the final 10 seconds.

“We talked about winning four quarters,” said coach Bill Fennelly. “We did that today for the first time in a long time. That’s a tribute to the kids. You just keep playing … I thought our team today did that for the first time maybe all season.”

Carleton starred for the Cyclones and was named MVP of the WNIT after recording 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three blocks and three steals in the win over Miami.

Sophomore guard Madi Wise added nine points, six rebounds and three assists in the win and was named to the All-Tournament team.

“It’s cool to win a championship, regardless of if it’s preseason or postseason,” Carleton said. “It’s cool that [we] were playing for something today. Obviously every game’s important but the fact that we step-by-step won four games in a row to win a tournament is really special.”

Defensive showcase

Iowa State locked down defensively, holding Miami to 52 points. The Hurricanes shot 31.3 percent (20-of-64) and hit 2-of-20 attempts from beyond the 3-point line. Miami had as many turnovers as made field goals.

In Thursday’s game between Miami and No. 19 Marquette, 6-foot-4 junior forward Beatrice Mompremier dropped 24 points and 21 rebounds for Miami. Against the Cyclones, she was held to five points (2-of-6 shooting), eight rebounds and four turnovers.

“Beatrice’s foul trouble was a function of their personnel scout,” Meier said. “Give credit where credit’s due.

“It was everything to do with them knowing our tendencies.”

Iowa State outscored Miami 22 to nine in points off turnovers, thanks in large part to eight steals as a team.

The Cyclones mixed in some 2-3 zone at times, which slowed Miami’s offense in the halfcourt and forced the Hurricanes into long jumpers. Only one of Miami’s starters — senior center Emese Hof, who went 5-for-9 — shot above 50 percent or hit more than two field goals.

Cyclones spread the wealth

Iowa State hit seven 3-pointers in 25 attempts against Miami. All seven 3-pointers were made by different players, and six Cyclones scored nine or more points.

“Doing the small things on defense was going to translate into scoring,” Wise said. “Everyone was running the floor well.”

Senior forward Ines Nezerwa scored 15 points, marking her first game in double-figures at Iowa State. Sophomore Kristin Scott chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench.

“I thought Ines and Kristin were really good off the bench,” Fennelly said. “Last game it was [Meredith Burkhall’s] turn, today it was Ines and Kristin’s turn.

“You just hope it’s someone’s turn every single night — besides Bridget.”