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Cyclones’ defensive capabilities, led by Arianna Jackson, provides hopeful future

Arianna+Jackson+shooting+over+Caitlin+Clark+during+the+Iowa+State+vs.+Iowa+match%2C+Hilton+Coliseum%2C+Dec.+6%2C+2023.
Matteo Bender
Arianna Jackson shooting over Caitlin Clark during the Iowa State vs. Iowa match, Hilton Coliseum, Dec. 6, 2023.

AMES — While No. 4 Iowa ran out of Hilton Coliseum with a win Wednesday night, the Cyclones have a lot to look forward to on the defensive front, mainly led by guard Arianna Jackson who was tasked to guard one of the best players in the nation: Caitlin Clark.

While Iowa State may have fallen to No. 4 Iowa at the end of the day, the Cyclones still had a lot to look forward to when it came to only losing by nine points to a top-five ranked team in the nation.

One of those aspects of the game came from the defensive unit, as Iowa put up its lowest amount of points scored in a game it had won this season.

The Hawkeyes had only two scorers reach the double-digit mark in points in their win over the Cyclones, as it proved Iowa State is capable of shutting down opposing offenses.

While Jackson did have some help from forward Nyamer Diew, Jackson helped force Clark into shooting about 38% from the field, showing Clark’s struggled against the defensive prowess Iowa State threw her way.

Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly knew that Jackson would have had one of the better chances to try and slow down Clark’s offensive capabilities, and it proved to be somewhat effective Wednesday night.

“You’re point guard not only needs to set up the offense but needs to do it for the defense as well. I think [Jackson] did a pretty good job with that, considering she went up against arguably the best player in the country,” Fennelly said.

Even with her performance against the Iowa guard, Fennelly saw Jackson’s defensive potential even before she came to Iowa State. That has now led her to being picked to guard the better players on the court.

“We felt when she came here, that she’s more a little more advanced, defensively, than other freshmen were. I think her and [Diew] are our two best defenders, with [Jackson] probably being the best guard on-ball defender on the perimeter,” Fennelly said.

Jackson felt she put up a good fight against Clark in their matchup Wednesday night, as it also helped to know they faced off against each other prior to this matchup.

“I had a little bit of insight on her since I played against her in high school. But going into the game, I knew she was gonna hit some shots; she’s a great player. So I knew I had to contain her, which I felt I did for the most part,” Jackson said.

Forward Jalynn Bristow might not have had one of her better nights shooting the ball, but she provided a bigger presence on defense by being one of the players to guard the post.

She knows at the end of the day, the job did not get finished and is hopeful they can look to build off of their mistakes and get back on the right foot in the future.

“We plan to watch film over what went wrong and hopefully look to build off of that. It also helps plan for the future in case something like this happens again, so we come more prepared,” Bristow said.

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