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Iowa State prepares to host Caitlin Clark, No. 4 Iowa in annual Cy-Hawk clash

Nyamer+Diew+tries+to+get+past+a+defender+during+the+Iowa+State+vs+Southern+Womens+Basketball+Game%2C+Hilton+Coliseum%2C+Nov.+20%2C+2023.
Josue Aleman
Nyamer Diew tries to get past a defender during the Iowa State vs Southern Women’s Basketball Game, Hilton Coliseum, Nov. 20, 2023.

Following an 85-58 home win versus North Carolina Wilmington and after being on the road for nearly a month, Iowa State looks ahead to potentially its toughest challenge yet.

The Cyclones will welcome in the No. 4 Iowa Hawkeyes for the annual Cy-Hawk matchup, which will be headlined by superstar Iowa guard Caitlin Clark.

Clark has been widely regarded as one of the best players in the nation within the college basketball world, as she’s dominated all competition in front of her.

In her nine games played thus far, Clark has led the team in minutes played, scoring, rebounds, assists, steals and turnovers.

Forward Nyamer Diew has gotten used to facing Iowa in her past years with Iowa State, and she is helping the young Cyclone team realize the key to potentially pulling off an upset is to realize that you cannot fully shut down Clark.

“The big thing for us to know is that we can’t stop [Clark], but we can try to slow her down. Along with that, it’s important to slow down her teammates as well, so we’re gonna go out there and do it,” Diew said.

This will potentially be the last time Clark will play the Cyclones at Hilton Coliseum, and Iowa State will hope to send her away in proper fashion in front of a sold-out crowd Wednesday night.

While Iowa seems to find success from its guard play led by Clark, the one thing it could have used was Iowa State center Audi Crooks to help propel them into becoming potentially the best team in the nation.

Back when Crooks was being recruited out of high school, she mentioned how Iowa, along with other programs, vied hard for her to join their programs, but she ended up coming to the decision of Iowa State because of the Cyclone coaches.

“The coaches truly cared about me,” Crooks said. “There’s a reason why Iowa State has the longest-tenured staff, and it’s because they care about you—not just as a player, but as a person.”

For guard Kelsey Joens, the game in particular means a lot to her and her family, as both her sisters Ashley Joens and Aubrey Joens have had a lot of prior experience against Iowa in their time at Iowa State. She will be looking to find an extra boost of motivation against an in-state rival.

“There’s always another gear for everyone. Just going out there and giving it everything you have is all you can ask for,” Kelsey Joens said.

Iowa is currently on a five-game winning streak, as it has shown the ability to be one of the better teams in the nation, entering the matchup with an 8-1 record.

The one team that gave the Hawkeyes some fits was a Big 12 team, Kansas State. In the two games they have played this season, the series ended up being split as each team pulled away with a win.

As for the Cyclones, they are riding off their two-game winning streak, beating teams in St. Thomas and North Carolina Wilmington. However, the Cyclones had some troubles against bigger-named programs earlier this year, as they fell to Power Five teams in Vanderbilt and Syracuse.

The Hawkeyes currently hold the lead over the Cyclones in women’s basketball with a 30-21 record. Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly helped save the existence of the matchup when he was first hired in 1995.

“Back when I got hired, the reason they didn’t play us was because they didn’t want to waste their time with us because we were so bad,” Fennelly said. “But I talked to our administration and Angie Lee, the Iowa head coach at the time, and said, ‘I don’t care how bad you beat us. This game has to be played.’”

Fennelly now holds a 14-13 record against the Hawkeyes and hopes to bring that win total up after Wednesday night’s game.

The Cy-Hawk matchup will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Hilton Coliseum. The game will also be nationally televised on ESPN2.

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