For the first time since the 2013-14 season, Iowa State women's basketball completed the season sweep of in-state opponents Northern Iowa, Iowa and Drake. The Cyclones did so in dramatic fashion, stopping a game-winning shot attempt to win 70-69 Sunday over Northern Iowa.
Winning these games against teams around Iowa is the biggest goal for the Cyclones, as it demonstrates that they are the top team inside of the state.
Forward Morgan Kane discussed this, saying that the team has a sign inside of the Sukup Basketball Complex locker room, stating the team’s record against each team in Iowa this season.
“The sign on the door of our locker room at Sukup that says that the last time they won was eight years ago, and so taking pride in that,” Kane said. “It’s a constant reminder that we need to step up to the plate.”
The Cyclones made sure that they put a cold-shooting first quarter to rest quickly, turning it around with a big second quarter. Turning up its defensive intensity, Iowa State held Northern Iowa to just three points in the second, winning it 17-3.
Head coach Bill Fennelly and almost every other person in attendance could see that this was the reason for an Iowa State victory, as it lost each of the other three quarters.
Iowa State post players Morgan Kane and Beatriz Jordão were dominant inside for much of the game, combining for 21 points and 11 rebounds in the win. Fennelly said that this was the best game that Kane has played all season long, but people are undervaluing the way that Jordão tonight and has played all season long.
“The steps they’ve made from where they were, that’s probably been the highlight of the fall preseason,” Fennelly said. “We are going to see some really good post players in the Big 12.”
Prior to the game, Fennelly had mentioned that the biggest key to the game was containing Karli Rucker of the Panthers. Finishing with eight points on 14 shots, Rucker did not perform her best on Sunday.
Despite her struggles, Fennelly had high praise for Rucker after the game, saying that she is one of the great players in the state of Iowa.
“I can be president of the Karli Rucker fan club; I think that kid is amazing. What she’s done for Northern Iowa basketball, what she’s done for our state,” Fennelly said.
Fennelly tasked Lexi Donarski with defending Caitlin Clark of Iowa on Wednesday and she held her to 26 points on 26 shots. Impressed with her defense in that game, Fennelly tasked Donarski with guarding Panther star Rucker.
Not only did Donarski have success on the defensive end on Rucker, but also put up a team-leading 19 points and eight rebounds.
Donarski said that she loves the challenge of guarding each team’s top player and shutting them down to the best of her abilities.
“I definitely take pride in my defense,” Donarski said. “I was just focused on doing my best to keep her in front of me and making her shot selections having to be tough shots.”