The post players’ force awakens on Star Wars Day at Hilton

Kristin Scott goes up for a shot in Iowa State’s win over North Carolina Central.

Jack Macdonald

After a 83-80 loss to in-state rival Drake, Bill Fennelly called out his post play, saying they were nowhere to be found. 

Well, Fennelly found them in Sunday’s 99-58 win over North Carolina Central. And it wasn’t just one he found, it was all three. 

“That was a good thing,” Fennelly said of his post players answering his call. “Obviously, we had an advantage inside, but they took advantage of that and we talked about that going into the game.”

In the midst of a four-game losing streak, Meredith Burkhall, Kristin Scott and Bride Kennedy-Hopoate averaged a combined 15.25 points per game. Against the Eagles, they accounted for 44 of the Cyclones 99 points. 

“Obviously you’re not going to get that production game in, game out,” Fennelly said. “But, at least it showed them that they could do some things… I felt good for them. They’ve been beaten down pretty hard by a lot of people, especially me.”

The trio was led by Burkhall, the preconceived leader of the group heading into the season nine games ago. The Iowa native exploded for 19 points, one point below her career-high of 20. 

“Mere couldn’t have played any better in the first half,” Fennelly said. “You can tell by the reactions of players teammates how much they care and our kids were out of their mind for what Mere did.” 

The even bigger kicker, Burkhall and Scott didn’t even start the game, Kennedy-Hopoate was the big to start. Scott accounted for 19 points, besting her previous career-high of 13.

Burkhall’s contribution was immediately felt when she entered the game early in the first quarter. Down 5-4, three minutes into the game, a Burkhall layup sparked a 22-3 Iowa State run to close out the second half. And fittingly, Burkhall scored the last points of that run. 

“From the beginning we wanted to come out with a good start,” Burkhall said. “We wanted to push the ball in transition, get in our spots and get the open looks.” 

And those open looks appeared. 

The Cyclones shot 57.8 percent from the field. In comparison, Oregon State leads the country in field goal percentage at 53.4 percent. That wasn’t the only category the Cyclones excelled in. In all, they finished with 29 assists, five more than NCAA-leading Iowa averages. 

Kennedy-Hopoate finished with just six points, but Scott and Burkhall were quick to compliment every big that saw time tonight. Even Claire Ricketts, the senior forward, contributed with two points. And just as Fennelly said a smile was needed from his team, Ricketts gave one as she ran back to play defense as the bench exploded with cheers after her lone bucket. 

On a day where the post players shined, it only makes sense that Kennedy-Hopoate contributed with one of the prettiest assists of the game. As the Eagles pressed on and off, Kennedy-Hopoate received an inbounds pass at half-court and dribbled all the way to the hoop before dishing a beautiful pass to Scott for an easy lay in.  

Even though the talent level was no where near to what the Cyclones will face come Big 12 season, a win is a win, especially for a team struggling to close out games like the Cyclones. 

“I think the biggest thing is we just needed to win and I get it,” Fennelly said. “It was a mismatch in competition, but sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do, you need something good to happen.

“Sometimes you need something that makes you feel good and this team needed something. They needed to smile about something.”