AMES — Live ball.
Iowa State forward Chelsea Poppens flew into the fray with her trademark reckless abandon.
“My son, Billy, said it looked like she was trying to recover an onside kick to win a game,” said Cyclones Coach Bill Fennelly, who saw Poppens sustain a concussion on the play, which occurred in his No. 24 team’s 55-33 pounding of Loyola Marymount on Friday at the Jankanoo Jam in the Bahamas. “The ball was loose. Most players kind of look at it and hope somebody picks it up and throws it to them. She dove in there.”
Fennelly said Poppens, ISU’s leader in rebounding at 9.7 per game, would be doubtful for Tuesday’s 7 p.m. intrastate matchup against Drake (1-3) at Hilton Coliseum.
She also missed the 4-0 Cyclones’ 68-50 Junkanoo Jam championship win Saturday over Illinois and hasn’t practiced for precautionary reasons.
“You want to do the right things by everyone and our medical staff will handle it perfectly,” Fennelly said. “We understand what’s at stake here.”
Forward Anna Prins — who saw her minutes rise to 34 in Poppens’ absence against the Illini — said her roommate remains in good spirits.
“Obviously she wants to be back and she wants to play, but we’re just trying to let her know that her brain is more important than anything,” said Prins, who Fennelly noted is embracing a larger leadership role. “It’s a long season and we want her back 100 percent. She’s been supporting us and cheering us on.”
Prins starred on defense, but not so much on the stat sheet against Illinois.
Part of those 34 minutes were spent guarding dynamic Illini forward Karisma Penn, who was limited to 10 points.
“To (Prins’) credit, she was really good in a game where she didn’t score a lot of points or get a lot of rebounds,” Fennelly said.
She’ll need to be good again Tuesday against the young Bulldogs, who feature center Stephanie Running, among others.
Running scored 18 points in Drake’s upset bid against the Cyclones last season before Poppens led a late charge that resulted in a 71-64 win.
“She’s probably the inside kid they will use the most,” Fennelly said. “But there’s no question she’s got to come in and when she sees Iowa State, feel pretty good about herself because of the way she played against us last year.”
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