ISU women’s basketball struggles without Johnson against Kansas State


Lani Tons/Iowa State Daily

Maddie Baier shoots the ball over Kansas State’s Breanna Lewis on Wednesday at Hilton Coliseum. 

Trey Alessio

The ISU women’s basketball team struggled offensively in the absence of junior Seanna Johnson against Kansas State on Wednesday night at Hilton Coliseum.

Johnson took some time to be with her family after her father suffered a stroke Sunday. And her absence was felt, as Iowa State fell, 68-53. 

Late in the first quarter, the Cyclones only shot 28 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from behind the arc. Despite a late first-quarter run, Iowa State went on a nearly five-minute scoring drought in the second quarter, which allowed K-State to jump out to a 38-23 lead at the half.

Iowa State missed Johnson, who is the team’s leader in points and rebounds per game. She’s also second on the team with 3.2 assists per game.

However, ISU coach Bill Fenelly said Johnson’s absence had nothing to do with the outcome of the game.

“Seanna didn’t miss all those shots,” Fennelly said. “Seanna helps us rebound a little bit. Obviously, she’s a great player and impacts our team dramatically. We’re not a very good team as it is, and when you take a first team All-Big 12 player off your team, it’s pretty hard. Our focus is with her and her family. We wish her the best, but that had nothing to do with the outcome of the game.”

Sophomore Emily Durr got her first career start in place of Johnson. She finished 4-for-14 from the field, 2-of-9 from behind the arc and ended up with 10 points.

“Seanna’s a great player, so it’s hard to fill her shoes. No one really can,” Durr said. “She affects the game in so many ways. I’m a shooter and a scorer, so I tried to do what I do best. Unfortunately, a lot of shots didn’t fall tonight. I can always do better, and I don’t think I did really well tonight.”

The Cyclones followed the same pattern. They only shot 24.2 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3-ball range in the first half. Iowa State finished the game 27.7 percent from the field and 29.7 percent from behind the arc.

Despite Iowa State’s shooting struggles, it didn’t have any trouble with turnovers. The Cyclones only committed one turnover toward the end of the game.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever coached in a game where you have one turnover,” Fennelly said. “That’s with a minute to go, and if Kidd kicks it like she’s supposed to, we don’t have a turnover for the whole game, which means you get a shot every single time down the floor. They’re playing a zone and you’ve got to make a 3. It’s been the same thing all year. We can’t make shots.”

Along with the absence of Johnson, the ISU players couldn’t find a way to match K-State’s post player Breanna Lewis’ numbers. She recorded a double-double with nine minutes left in the third quarter and finished with 25 points and 16 rebounds.

Johnson has been a double-double machine this season for Iowa State. She’s had 13 double-doubles this year — something that Iowa State can normally fall back on, but with her being away, Iowa State couldn’t find any groove offensively. The Cyclones only had three players in double-digit scoring and no one in double-digit rebounding.

Blaskowsky led the Cyclones with 12 points. Freshman Bridget Carleton finished had 11 points and Durr ended up with 10.

“When [Johnson’s] a lead scorer and a leader on the team, it’s definitely hard to make up for the things she does, but it also opens opportunities for the underclassmen,” said senior Kidd Blaskowsky. “When you get an opportunity like that, you’ve got to take advantage of it.”