Iowa State looks for newcomers to build upon their past performances for Nicholls State


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

Garrett Kroeger

The post-finals, pre-break games are always a struggle. And because of that, Iowa State women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly looks to the veterans on his squad to handle that transition.

Before the Cyclones’ last game against UC-Riverside, Fennelly told Bridget Carleton, Emily Durr, and Meredith Burkhall that Iowa State was going to rely on them. However, in that game against the Highlanders, all three had subpar performances. The newcomers on this year’s team were the ones that carried most of the load.

Freshmen Rae Johnson and Madison Wise both had career-highs, with 14 and 19 points, respectively. Plus, JUCO transfer Bride Kennedy-Hopoate contributed 15 points. That means out of the 89 points Iowa State scored against UC-Riverside, all three athletes combined for more than half of the Cyclones’ total. And come Thursday at 1 p.m. in Hilton Coliseum against the Nicholls State Colonels, Fennelly and company hope the newbies can improve upon said performances.

“They’ve been awesome,” Carleton said on this season’s newcomers. “They have gotten better everyday and every game. That’s good heading into Big 12 season soon, after Christmas. They are getting confidence. They are playing well, scoring baskets, doing the little things. It’s exciting.”

All season long, Iowa State has looked for its newcomers to come up big. The Cyclones have given all three big-time minutes. However, this was the first time this season that a majority of Iowa State’s newcomers clicked at the same time.

Sometimes, it would just be Johnson or Kennedy-Hopoate contributing in a big way or a combination of Wise and fellow freshman Kristin Scott.

Fennelly has made it clear that all four will be a big part of this year’s success and they have all had their ups and downs. But after Sunday’s game and heading into the match-up against Nicholls State, he believes they are finally figuring out their roles while learning on the fly.

“Sometimes it’s hard to learn on the job,” Fennelly said. “They are not used to not always having success. You come out of a high school program where you score every single night and you are the best player on the court every single night.

“Sometimes it’s humbling. Their efforts have been good, they are coachable, and there are a lot of good things ahead if them.”

With this game being the last non-conference contest of the season, Fennelly wants Johnson, Wise, Scott, and Kennedy-Hopoate to build upon their previous successes. But that’s not the only thing he wants.

The biggest thing in Fennelly’s mind in terms of what he wants to see out of the Cyclones is to see them play in a way that shows they are ready for Big 12 play. Because whether or not, it’s coming. And with the Nicholls State game being the last game before an extended break for Iowa State, the Cyclones will try to not overlook the Colonels.

“It’s tough,” Carleton said. “Especially the new girls, they are excited to go home. We are all excited to go home and see our families. But, [coach Fennelly] said our priorities right now are basketball and family.

“We got to finish this, go out strong, and practice hard for three days. Get one last game in before Christmas and then we can have a nice holiday.”