Cyclones taking it 40 minutes at a time ahead of TCU clash

Senior guard Emily Durr Knocks and Oklahoma State player to the ground while going up for a basket during the Iowa State vs OSU basketball game Feb. 10 in Hilton Coliseum.The cyclones were narrowly defeated by the Cowgirls 73-81

Noah Rohlfing

Nothing about the 2017-18 season has been easy for Iowa State, and with five games left, it’s not going to get any easier.

Now, with junior forward Bride Kennedy-Hopoate out for the fourth straight game, sophomore guard Nia Washington dealing with an ankle injury, and a 10-14 record, no one would blame the Cyclones for looking past the next four games and on to next season.

Coach Bill Fennelly is still taking things 40 minutes at a time, though.

“That’s the way we operate,” Fennelly said. “We try to do things the same way and be consistent on a daily basis.

“Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”

Wednesday night, the Cyclones have a return matchup with TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, just two weeks after the Horned Frogs leveled the Cyclones 75-52 in Hilton. TCU’s half-court zone trap was deadly the last time these two teams met, with the Cyclones unable to get into their offense and struggling mightily to create open looks. Fennelly called it the Cyclones’ “worst performance of the season.”

Senior guard Emily Durr and junior Bridget Carleton were the only Cyclones to score more than five points on the night, and the two combined for 63 percent of Iowa State’s offensive production.

Durr said the Cyclones have to be ready to take advantage of any open shots on Wednesday against the TCU defense.

“When you get an open shot, you’re gonna have to shoot it,” Durr said, “Because you know that might be the best shot we get all possession.”

The Cyclones have been more balanced on the offensive side of the ball in their last two games, with five players scoring 10 or more points against Kansas State and three reaching double figures against Oklahoma State.

Iowa State’s leading scorer over the past two games has been freshman guard-forward Madison Wise. Wise scored 17 against Kansas State and scored a career-high 21 points against the Cowgirls on Saturday night.

On Monday, Wise was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Week for the third time this season. She has scored in double digits 10 times this season and is the Cyclones’ third-leading scorer at 9.3 points per game. Wise is also shooting a team-best 45.8 percent from 3-point range.

Wise went scoreless in the first meeting between these two teams, but with two solid performances under her belt, the Cyclones will be looking to the Greenfield, Indiana, native to be the third scoring option on Wednesday night.

Fennelly said offensively, the Cyclones need to adjust to the aggressiveness of the TCU zone from the opening tip.

“Sometimes you gotta attack them,” Fennelly said. “You gotta break pressure with pressure.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Cyclones have to improve their interior defense.

TCU took advantage of Kennedy-Hopoate’s absence in Hilton, with starting center Jordan Moore scoring 25 points on 14 shots. Every one of her eight made field goals was in the paint. The Cyclones gave up 35 points to Oklahoma State center Kaylee Jensen on Saturday, and without Kennedy-Hopoate’s physicality, the burden of defending Moore falls on redshirt junior forward Claire Ricketts and junior Meredith Burkhall.

Fennelly said the Cyclones will use more zone defense this time around to combat Moore’s post presence, which is in line with the strategy the Cyclones used to pull off a road upset of then-No. 19 Oklahoma State in January.

Sophomore forward Adriana Camber thinks Burkhall and Ricketts are performing well in Bride’s absence.

“I think Claire has a done a great job stepping up,” Camber said. “Hopefully Bride can get back soon, but I think our post players are doing a great job.”

The Cyclones are running out of opportunities to end a difficult season on a positive note. A fourth road win in conference play on Wednesday night would be a big step in the right direction.