AMES —Fifteen remains Chelsea Poppens’ magic number.
So far, anyway.
The Iowa State forward grabbed that many rebounds in a game for the third time this season Saturday, which helped the No. 25 Cyclones to a 68-52 Big 12 win over TCU before 9,745 fans at Hilton Coliseum.
“I think I just got on a roll,” Poppens said. “My energy stayed the same. Nikki (Moody) got me the open looks when I needed it, Brynn (Williamson) got me the open looks when I needed it. They just saw me.”
Hard to miss.
Poppens finished with a season-high 24 points, too, including six during a pivotal 13-2 run late in the first half that gave ISU (12-2, 3-1) the lead for good.
The basket that put the Cyclones in front 21-20 came off a missed free throw, which she hustled to grab, then push through the hoop.
It’s her second such play in the past three games — and something coach Bill Fennelly finds particularly impressive.
“It’s timing, it’s effort,” Fennelly said. “It’s, ‘I’m going to go get the damn ball.’ That’s what it is. ... That is a hard thing to do and you don’t see many people do it because most kids, number one, kind of stand there. They don’t really make the effort to go get it. But that’s the kind of thing that has endeared her to our fan base.”
It’s also become the bane of opposing coaches.
“She works her tail off every play,” said Horned Frogs coach Jeff Mittie, whose team fell to 7-8, 0-4.
She wasn’t alone Saturday, but it took awhile for ISU to turn effort into anything but frustration.
TCU controlled the game most of the first half, leading by as many as seven points.
Then the Cyclones finally heated up and the Horned Frogs fell into a funk.
ISU turned a 20-16 deficit into a 29-24 halftime lead despite losing 11 turnovers before the break.
“You cant turn the ball over 11 times when somebody’s sitting in a zone,” Fennelly said. “That’s just bad decision making. ... But we got to halftime, doing OK. We tell our kids, ‘Just keep guarding until somebody makes a basket.’”
ISU made 50 percent of its shots after starting out 4 of 19.
Hallie Christofferson drained 4 of 9 3-pointers while scoring 14 points.
Anna Prins added eight points and 10 rebounds.
Poppens finished 8 of 13 from the field and became the fourth player in program history to surpass 900 rebounds (910).
Not that she’d know it.
“She’s not that kind of kid,” Fennelly said, “which is probably why she’s good as what she does.”