In its last regular season game Wednesday night, the Iowa State women’s basketball team completed one final sweep of the Kansas Jayhawks when the Cyclones won 83-53.
Wednesday's game looked much different from the last game the Cyclones played against the Jayhawks, when Iowa State won 84-82. The Cyclones closed down the season at a Big 12 record of 12-6 and will now prepare for the Big 12 Tournament.
Defense sees improvement
In his press conference previewing the game against Kansas, Head Coach Bill Fennelly said an area he wanted to see his team improve upon from the last game against Kansas was their defense.
Fennelly said after the game that Iowa State’s defense all night was solid and much better than when they played Kansas at Kansas.
“We did a much better job on their ball screens, we kind of changed how we guarded the ball screen,” Fennelly said. “We really wanted to focus on keeping the ball in front of us, keeping people in the lane a little bit longer.”
Fennelly added that they got beat so badly down in Kansas with the Jayhawks attacking the basket and he thought the Cyclones did a good job of secondary defense on the ball and scrambling out of it while also not giving up too many free throws.
“I thought our quarter court defense was really, really solid and that was good to see,” Fennelly said.
Iowa State had seven steals in the game against Kansas while holding the Jayhawks to 33 percent shooting from the field and 24 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Iowa State gets action on the boards
Fennelly has said all season that Iowa State is not historically the team that out-rebounds its opponent, but that is exactly what happened Wednesday night.
The Cyclones had more rebounds (54) than Kansas had points (53), including 23 offensive boards to Kansas’ eight.
Fennelly said that was really big for the Cyclones considering they had so much trouble with shooting throughout much of the game.
“A lot of times it’s three blue jerseys and a white jersey and who wants the ball more,” Fennelly said. “I thought tonight, Kristin [Scott], Madi Wise, Kylie [Feuerbach], [Ashley Joens], all did a great job of going after the ball.”
Fennelly also said they all rebounded out of their areas of the floor rather than just waiting for the ball to come to them and went after the ball really hard, which he said was encouraging with the tournaments coming up.
Junior guard Ashley Joens led Iowa State in rebounds Wednesday night with 14. She had seven defensive rebounds and seven offensive rebounds each.
Joens said any time you can get rebounds, especially on the offensive end for second and third-chance shots, helps with another opportunity to get the ball in the basket.
“And then on the defensive end as well, just being able to get a rebound kind of helps you on the fast break,” Joens said. “You can get the ball down the court and score quick and get back on defense.”
Going on runs
Basketball is a game of runs, and Wednesday night’s game was no different.
On a night where Iowa State struggled to shoot the ball for much of the game, with the Cyclones not having an efficient quarter until the fourth, the Cyclones relied on a few key runs for them to remain in front of the Jayhawks.
Iowa State shot the ball at 33 percent efficiency from the field and 25 percent from three in the first quarter, and until the first media timeout at the under-five mark, they were trailing Kansas.
Coming out of the timeout, Iowa State went on a 9-0 run to put them up 17-14 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter shooting didn’t look much better, with the Cyclones’ shooting percentage dropping to 26 percent from the field and 23 percent from beyond the arc.
However, Iowa State closed out the first half on a 16-2 run that gave them a 38-27 lead at halftime.
Fennelly said they finally got some transition baskets and their defense was solid.
“I think we’re down 25-22 and just played a really, really efficient last three minutes of the half,” Fennelly said. “Got some transition baskets, got a couple putbacks, finally saw the ball go in the hole and kept guarding.”
Fennelly said getting up 11 at halftime and coming out and playing a good third quarter was the turning point of the game for Iowa State.
Iowa State will now prepare for the Big 12 Tournament that takes place March 11-14 in Kansas City, Missouri. Game times are yet to be determined for each team and will be announced at a later date.