Big 12 opener becomes historic night for Iowa State women’s basketball, Bridget Carleton


Head coach Bill Fennelly talks to guard Bridget Carleton in between plays against North Carolina Central on Dec. 10 at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones won 99-58.

Noah Rohlfing

With a layup early in the second half on Thursday night, Bridget Carleton euro-stepped her way into the Iowa State record books.

Carleton, a junior from Chatham, Ontario, Canada, became the fourth-fastest player to reach 1,000 points, behind only Stacy Frese, Jayme Olson, and Meagan Taylor.

“To be a part of that is a great honor,” Carleton said.

Carleton’s historic accomplishment was only one of many memorable moments from Iowa State’s bonkers 71-69 overtime win over Kansas. True to form, Bridget Carleton was involved in nearly every one of them.

Coach Bill Fennelly admits that sometimes, that’s all the Cyclones need.

“One of those, ‘We had Bridget and they didn’t’ kinda games,” Fennelly said. “Bridget’s a monster, we all know that.”

The Cyclones struggled early on, hounded by Kansas’ suffocating interior defense. Carleton hit two 3-pointers in the first quarter, but junior center Bride Kennedy-Hopoate was the only other Cyclone to hit a field goal. Iowa State still led 18-17 after one on the back of 7-for-9 free throw shooting.

The Cyclones were led in the first half by Kennedy-Hopoate, who has become an offensive weapon in recent games. Her 15 points (11 in the first half) on 5-of-9 shooting Thursday tied a career high. The Aussie made a 3-pointer for the third straight game and showcased her willingness to get physical with the Kansas post defense.

That sort of play is exactly what Fennelly is looking for from Kennedy-Hopoate.

“She’s not afraid to hit people,” Fennelly said. “She was probably just as big for us as Bridget [Carleton] was.”

Fennelly and his staff have been trying to slowly raise Kennedy-Hopoate’s minutes, but she is rapidly becoming a key cog on both ends of the floor for the Cyclones.

At halftime, Iowa State trailed the Jayhawks 31-29. With the Cyclones only shooting 30.8 percent from the field, something was going to have to change on the offensive end to crack the stingy Kansas defense.

Fennelly’s response was to run through Carleton every possession.

After she scored five quick points to break the 1,000 point barrier and give Iowa State a 42-41 lead, Kansas went on a 7-0 run and held the Cyclones scoreless for 4:39, building a 48-41 cushion. After three, the score was 50-49 Kansas.

With 4:51 to play, freshman guard Rae Johnson hit a layup to bring the Cyclones within one point. The score was 59-58. Bridget Carleton scored every single Iowa State point the rest of the game, including seven in overtime.

That included two points on a backdoor cut-inbounds play to give the Cyclones a 62-61 lead with 22.8 seconds left.

Carleton explained why the outcome of this late-game shot was different from prior attempts this season.

“I think I’ve learned every game,” Carleton said. “I’m learning more on how to read what the defense is giving me and using that to my advantage.”

After two Carleton free throws, the Cyclones led 64-61 with 19.3 seconds to play. The Cyclone fans were ready to celebrate until a Kylee Kopatich 3-pointer took the game to overtime.

In overtime, Carleton continued to find ways to score and despite three of her seven turnovers coming in the game’s final three minutes, the Cyclones held on for an important conference win.

Carleton’s final stat line: 30 points on 11-for-22 shooting and nine rebounds.

On a historic Thursday night in Hilton, Bridget Carleton joined a list of the Cyclones’ all-time greats and dragged her team across the finish line.