‘Shooters shoot’ mentality for Cyclones against Kansas State

Senior Guard Emily Durr drives breaks thought two players during the Iowa State Vs UC Riverside basketball game Dec 17. The Cyclones Defeated Riverside 89-66

Jack Macdonald

Two games. Two losses to ranked opponents. One solution.

That solution — plop a box score in front of every player on the Iowa State women’s basketball team.

This solution was coach Bill Fennelly’s most recent attempt to get his team out of the rut they have dug themselves into.

“I’m older, so they’re like ‘oh, remember last year you did really well versus this team or you can do it,'” said senior guard Emily Durr. “Box scores really help when you see it on paper and you know you can do it.”

Similarly, their next opponent — Kansas State — is in an all too familiar rut as well.

When the two meet Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Hilton Coliseum, one is bound to break the rut. For Kansas State, it has faced a gauntlet of ranked teams in the first four games of the Big 12 schedule.

Those games included then-No. 6 Baylor, then-No. 24 Oklahoma State, then-No. 12 West Virginia and then-No. 8 Texas. The one win came against the Mountaineers, the same team the Cyclones took down to the wire on the road last Sunday.

And the Cyclones know this battle-tested Kansas State team is better than its record. For example, two of its three Big 12 losses went down to the wire, ultimately losing by eight to Oklahoma State and 11 to Texas.

Iowa State has been plagued by a shooting illness in its rut, shooting just 33.3 percent from the field in its first four Big 12 games. And against Baylor and West Virginia, the Cyclones shot 28.6 percent and 25.8 percent from the field, respectively.

“Like everyone else, we’re just grinding away,” Fennelly said. “No big secrets here. Everybody knows what the issue is with our team… Yeah, we need to start making some shots.”

And to Fennelly’s disappointment, it will be hard to break out of the rut and cold shooting streak when the Wildcats play a zone defense at Hilton Wednesday. The zone defense creates minimal opportunities to get a shot off, especially for a team that doesn’t have an x-factor player who can blow by a defender.

Durr, who has played the Wildcats seven times in her career, knows the defensive scheme they bring will create problems for the Cyclones’ shooters. But, to the senior’s credit, she has found a way to beat that zone four times.

For her it’s simple. Just shoot your shot.

“We’re really going to need our shots to fall,” Durr said. “They play a really active zone.”

But when those shots don’t fall, there is Kayla Goth under the rim ready to push the pace. Goth is the Kansas State 6-foot guard who, according to Fennelly, is playing at an All-Big 12 level. The junior is averaging 16.7 points per game and 6.3 assists. Right behind Goth is Shaelyn Martin, the senior guard who averages 7.5 rebounds per game.

To compare, Cyclone freshman Kristin Scott leads the team averaging 7.2 rebounds per game. Scott isn’t the only player who will have to have a big game against the Kansas State zone. Junior Meredith Burkhall, who was thought to be the x-factor Bridget Carleton would have by her side, will need to exploit the K-State zone.

“In the zone you’re going to have to really flash,” Burkhall said. “Get to the middle and look for the gaps in the zone.”

Shots falling or not, a Big 12 win is almost felt as a must right now. And like the players and coaches said, it starts with shooting well.

“We have a lot of shooters on this team,” Durr said. “Shooters shoot.”