By Rob Gray
AMES — The tale of the tape told the possible story.
Playing an undersized, perimeter-focused Cal State-Fullerton team could lead to a banner day for Iowa State forward Hallie Christofferson.
And it did — eventually.
Christofferson scored a career-high 33 points, including seven to spark a decisive 19-1 run as the No. 20 Cyclones turned a tense game into a 79-52 runaway win before 10,996 fans at Hilton Coliseum.
We really didn’t come out like we were capable of,” said Christofferson, who scored 21 of her points in a 52-37 second half. “Given them credit, they never stopped fighting.”
The Cyclones (8-0) are off to their fourth-best start in program history, but Sunday’s uneven beginning caused Coach Bill Fennelly to offer headline suggestions.
“Iowa State sleepwalks through the first half, (catches) fire in the second half,” Fennelly said. “No excuses. I don’t want to take anything away from Fullerton. We were outplayed, out coached in the first half. The second half, we’re making shots and we probably defended a little bit better. And we have the best player in the game by far.”
ISU started the game down one other good one in starting guard and third-leading 3-point shooter Brynn Williamson, who sat out for precautionary reasons after being hit in the head.
Her absence showed.
The Cyclones went 0-for-9 from beyond the arc before the break and limped into the locker room with a 27-25 lead despite holding the Titans (1-7) to 28 percent shooting.
“We were just doing it to ourselves,” said Christofferson, who went 11 of 16 from the field and 10 of 10 from the free throw line while grabbing eight rebounds. “We just wanted to come out in the second half more energized and ready to go.”
ISU’s 19-1 close-out featured three of its season-high eight steals.
Jadda Buckley snared three of them and scored 10 points.
Nikki Moody dished out nine assists.
The Cyclones drilled 7 of 9 long-range baskets after the ice-cold start.
Seanna Johnson notched her third career game with 10-plus rebounds by clearing 12 missed shots off the boards.
“She’s always going hard,” Christofferson said of Johnson.
Christofferson’s game keeps going up.
She topped 30 points for the second time this season and raised her field goal and free throw percentages to 57.4 and 93.1, respectively.
“You’d might as well just give Iowa State two points if you foul her,” Fennelly said.
That will be an important “if” factor when No. 25 Iowa rolls into Hilton for Thursday’s rivalry game.
The Hawkeyes (10-1) have scored 95 or more points in three straight games.
Williamson’s expected back, Fennelly added, but a more complete effort will be required regardless.
“We’d better wake up, because we’re sitting on the track and the train’s coming,” Fennelly said.MADISON BAIER INJURED: Iowa State reserve post player Madison Baier was helped off the court after sustaining a knee in jury in the second half and did not return. She, like Williamson, will be evaluated by medical personnel today. “It’s not good,” Fennelly said. “I don’t know how bad it is.”