AMES — Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly made Nikki Moody his quarterback.
The Cyclone point guard’s second-half scheme for Saturday’s Big 12 game against Texas Tech?
“I said, ‘It’s like a football game and we’re just gonna run it down their throat,’” said Fennelly, whose No. 23 team ruled the paint and coasted to a 67-52 Big 12 win before 11,932 fans at Hilton Coliseum. “That’s all I told her, ‘Just hand it off, three yards, four yards — just run it down their throat.”
ISU post players Chelsea Poppens and Anna Prins combined to go 7 of 9 in the paint in the second half as the Cyclones (15-5, 6-4) completed a regular season sweep of the Red Raiders (16-6, 6-4).
Poppens scored a team-best 18 points. Prins added 12.
They played a combined 10 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.
“Anna and I both got pretty anxious,” said Poppens, who added nine rebounds and a career high-tying four assists.
The Cyclones made just 3 of their first 15 shots and trailed 20-12 with 6:50 left in the first half.
Enter Hallie Christofferson, who scored six of ISU’s next nine points and helped cut the deficit to 29-25 at halftime.
“It was kind of a miracle we were only down four,” said Christofferson, who notched her eighth career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Christofferson also tied a career high with four blocked shots.
“When you really need a play, she seems to be the kid you can count on,” Fennelly said.
ISU relied heavily on Poppens and Prins after halftime.
Moody immediately fed Poppens, who responded with a baby hook and swish to make the score 29-27.
That familiar maneuver sparked a 13-2 run that jolted Tech, which drained just 21.4 percent of its second-half shots and trailed by double digits the final 11:24.
“We were as cold in here as it it outside,” Red Raiders coach Kristy Curry said.
The Cyclones shot 64.2 percent (18 of 28) after their frosty 3 of 15 start and outmuscled Tech 18-4 in the paint after the break.
“ We really came out ready to go and fired up,” Christofferson said. “At halftime, everybody knew what they needed to do.”MOODY NICKED UP: ISU point guard Nikki Moody dinged up an already ailing right wrist during the second half. Fennelly said she hurt it in practice recently. “She should be fine with a day off,” he added. Moody had six assists and a Big 12 season-low two turnovers.