Seanna Johnson, Cyclones find their way against Northern Iowa

Iowa State junior guard Seanna Johnson points to a player during the game against UNI in Cedar Falls Wed. night. The Cyclones went on to defeat the Panthers 84-75, making it their 12th straight win against them. 

Trey Alessio

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — ISU women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly said Iowa State’s performance on Wednesday night against Northern Iowa showed a lot of character.

A lot of its character stemmed from the ability of junior Seanna Johnson.

Iowa State came out swinging Wednesday night against UNI. It started off with a 6-0 run and ended the first quarter with a 19-6 lead.

Johnson played a big role in Iowa State’s early success. The Cyclones shot 47.1 percent from the field compared to UNI’s 12.5 percent. Johnson led Iowa State through the entire first half. She went into halftime with 10 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists.

“She’s just a workhorse — she’s a workhorse. She finds a way to get it done. You’ve got to give her credit,” said UNI coach Tanya Warren about Johnson. “She rebounds well, she shoots the 3 well, she puts it on the floor. She wanted the ball in her hands during crutch time, and she made the plays.” 

However, UNI made a roaring comeback in the second quarter. At one point, Johnson got a steal and a transitional layup to put Iowa State up 36-25, but UNI chipped away at the ISU lead.

The Cyclones missed their last five shots to allow the Panthers to on a 6-0 run. Iowa State went into halftime with only a 36-31 lead.

The second half was a back-and-forth affair. UNI kept chipping away at Iowa State’s lead and cut it to three with 4:41 remaining in the third quarter. UNI tied it up after a turnover, fast break and point after the foul. The Panthers took the lead with a 3-pointer, but sophomore Bry Fernstrom immediately tied it back with a trey. She called that a turning point in the game.

“Baskets fell early for me, which was a big thing for my confidence,” Fernstrom said. “Shots were just falling for me tonight.”

Johnson continued to lead Iowa State throughout the second half, but she had some help.

Redshirt sophomore Jadda Buckley played the role of facilitator with eight of Iowa State’s 14 assists. She also completed a 4-point play with a make from behind the arc and the foul after. Fennelly said the play came at a big time during the game.

“For us to get 84 points and get four people in double figures was huge against a team that we always have trouble scoring against,” Fennelly said. “It was a really good offensive effort from our kids tonight.”

Fernstrom got boards and founds ways to score — primarily with a hook shot, which she used to her advantage against UNI. Fernstrom finished with a double-double — 15 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman Meredith Burkhall quietly scored 11 points off the bench as well.

Johnson led the Cyclones and finished with 28 points, 10 rebounds, five steals and three assists. Her 3-point shot wasn’t working at first, but it caught on as the game progressed.

“My teammates found me the ball,” Johnson said. “[Fennelly] told me to keep shooting. I missed the first couple threes I shot but he said, ‘Keep shooting if they’re going to guard you like that. Hit the three.’ Towards the end, Jadda [and] my teammates found me the ball, and I just got easy baskets.”

Iowa State gained some momentum in the fourth quarter. The Cyclones got a commanding lead and held it until the final whistle. Iowa State picked up an 84-75 win against UNI.

“We had good balance. We scored 84 points against a really good defensive team,” Fennelly said. “It was a really gutsy effort by our team in a place where things hadn’t been going so well for about a week, so we challenged them to make it better and they did. I think we saw a lot about the character and toughness of our team tonight.”

After going 1-2 and losing to No. 15 ranked Duke and Idaho in Cancun, Mexico, the Cyclones found their way Wednesday against what Fennelly called a “very good defensive team” and improved to an even 3-3.

“[They players] found a way tonight. We learned a lot about our team. It was a big night for us in more than just winning one game,” Fennelly said.

Iowa State will take on Southern on Sunday, Dec. 6 at Hilton Coliseum.