Iowa State looks to handle defensive pressure against Southern


Daniel Jacobi II

Nyamer Diew works her way into the paint against Omaha on Nov. 9 in Hilton Coliseum.

After a dominant showing in its season opener, No. 8 Iowa State looks to secure another non-conference win over Southern Thursday. The game will be a second opportunity for the Cyclones to practice a wide variety of lineup options.

The team’s exhibition game and first matchup have been a display of its strength and flexibility. Iowa State played 11 different players against Cleveland State, and throughout the non-conference slate, the Cyclones aim to perfect a variety of different looks.

“That’s the goal. Every day we practice every lineup we can think of,” head coach Bill Fennelly said.

Using players like senior Ashley Joens at point guard or junior Nyamer Diew as a post player in a five guard rotation helps give the Cyclones options. The team hasn’t shied away from roster experimentation, both schematically and personnel-wise.

Against Cleveland State, Diew came in as a post player when senior Stephanie Soares got into foul trouble. Later in the game, she was bringing the ball up the floor as a point guard.

The ability to plan ahead when players are in foul trouble will help Iowa State throughout the season, and a deep bench provides potential for the emergence of new players.

“They know that if you want to play, you gotta compete for playing time,” Fennelly said. “When you’re on a good team, that should happen. I think they all understand it, and they all know that versatility has always been valued here.”

The team will look to continue its dominance against Southern.

The Jaguars will bring more pressure than Cleveland State, forcing the Iowa State’s guards to play tighter in order to protect the ball. Southern earned 11 steals and forced 19 turnovers against No. 4 Iowa. Its defense left Iowa guard Caitlin Clark with a cut lip and injured ankle.

Iowa State struggled with maintaining possession in its first matchup, turning the ball over 16 times against Cleveland State’s zone defense. The pressure will be amped up against Southern, a team that plays aggressively on the ball.

“It’s really good preparation for teams that we’re gonna see later in the season, even for Southern as well,” sophomore Denae Fritz said. “It’s never bad to get pressured by a team to see how we can handle the ball.”

While Southern plays a chaotic defense, the team is undersized compared to Iowa State. The Cyclones will look to take advantage of their size in the backcourt, as well as using 6-foot-6 Soares down low.

Iowa State will take on Southern at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Hilton Coliseum.