AMES — There’s one salient takeaway from the Iowa State women’s first Big 12 meeting with Kansas this season and it’s this:
“We didn’t guard anyone for about eight minutes,” said ISU coach Bill Fennelly, whose team lost an 18-point second-half lead and fell 78-75 in overtime Jan. 30 at Lawrence. “And when you don’t guard anyone in this league, they’re going to make shots.”
Lesson learned, in all likelihood, for the second-place Cyclones (19-6, 10-5), which seek revenge against the NCAA Tournament bubble-bound Jayhawks (16-10, 7-8) in Wednesday’s 7 p.m. matchup at Hilton Coliseum.
“I don’t remember much about it, but (we) just kind of stopped playing, I guess,” ISU forward Hallie Christofferson said. “And they just did not stop playing and kept their composure; fought back to the end.”
The game oozed weirdness.
Kansas was not whistled for a foul in the final 11 minutes of regulation and trailed 55-37 with 8:56 left.
Jayhawks guard Angel Goodrich scored 11 of her game-high 24 points in the last eight minutes of the game and the Cyclones lost 21 turnovers.
“The one thing we don’t do as a profession is give the other guy much credit,” said Fennelly, whose team has won five of six games since. “There are a lot of things we should have done, but you’ve got to credit them for what they’ve done — and they’ve shown a propensity to do that. They’re down 23 at TCU and win. They’re down 16 (Sunday against Texas Tech) and almost win.”
Keeping the Jayhawks at bay the full duration will require a typical ISU effort, and that’s based on efficiency on offense and stinginess on defense.
“Trust our own teammates, do the right thing, make the right passes at the right time,” said Cyclone senior forward Chelsea Poppens, who became the 15th Big 12 player to surpass 1,000 rebounds in her career in Saturday’s win at Kansas State. “Just take care of the ball.”
Opponents are shooting 35 percent against the Cyclones.
Only Baylor is more stringent among Big 12 teams.
Kansas hit 63 percent of its shots in the second half and overtime in the previous meeting.
“The last eight minutes of regulation was — if it’s not the worst, it’s one of the worst defensive efforts, or lack thereof, that we’ve had in a long time here,” Fennelly said.
ISU is also coming off a rare home loss to a team other than Baylor.
West Virginia shocked the Cyclones 68-66 last weekend and Poppens is keenly aware the clock is ticking on her career at Hilton.
“It’s pretty crazy,” said Poppens, who is the second player in program history to notch 1,000 points and 1,000 boards. “Coach keeps saying, like, the countdown, how many days are left. I’m just like, ‘Shoot. I’m almost done here.’ Kind of sad, but I’m enjoying my time, every day.”
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