AMES — She’s tough.
Relentless on both ends of the court.
But Iowa State’s all-Big 12 senior forward Chelsea Poppens is learning to strategically — and sparingly — dial back the intensity the hard way, from the end of the bench.
‘Sometimes you’ve got to give up a shot rather than putting yourself or your teammates in a bad position,” said Poppens, who hopes to quiet fouling concerns beginning with Saturday’s 2 p.m. Big 12 game at Kansas State.
Taking it easy at times isn’t easy for Poppens, who has been tabbed one of the top five power forwards in the nation by espnW.
It’s required, though — as she’s fouled out of two straight games and been whistled for four or more infractions in seven of the past 10.
“We’ve been having issues,” Poppens said.
Solving them begins Saturday for the Cyclones (18-6, 9-5), which remain tied for second-place in the conference standings despite a 68-66 home loss last weekend to West Virginia.
Injuries have forced the Wildcats (13-13, 4-10) to go ultra-small — and allowed high-scoring guard Brittany Chambers to freewheel on the offensive end.
Chambers scored 34 points in ISU’s 87-71 win over K-State earlier this month at Hilton Coliseum.
“You can’t help off of her a lot,” said the Cyclones’ backcourt defensive stopper, Brynn Williamson. “She can shoot it deep, so if you take that away, you have to be able to cut down her drives, too.”
Curtailing Chambers’ production hinges on keeping her off the free throw line.
She made 13-of-17 from the stripe in Ames and the Wildcats shot 27 free throws as a team.
“She averages about five and a half or six a game,” ISU coach Bill Fennelly told reporters Thursday. “We didn’t do a very good job.”
Slashing foul totals — from the guard court to the post — begins with brains, not brawn.
“Just being smart about it; picking when to be aggressive and when not to be aggressive,” said Poppens, who scored 22 points while grabbing 18 rebounds in the previous meeting with K-State. “Not committing those silly fouls.”
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