AMES — He said, she said … basically the same thing.
A coach can do what he wants. Or she wants.
Lisa Bluder reserved the right to press the opponent’s second unit in the final minute. And Bill Fennelly felt justification in calling his first unit back in.
“I don’t care what Iowa does at the end of the game,” Fennelly said after the 11th-ranked Cyclones beat Iowa for the ninth straight time at Hilton Coliseum, 83-70, Thursday night. “If (Bluder is) going to press and leave her starters in, that’s her business. But I don’t want my second team to be embarrassed.”
Fennelly reinserted his starters with just under a minute left, then looked toward the Iowa bench, shaking his head.
“He can do what he wants,” Bluder said. “Until the buzzer goes off, any coach can do whatever they want.
“I didn’t realize it was an issue for him. I thought the (outcome of) the game was over. I wanted to try to get through some situations and learn.”
That moment provided the only real drama of the game. Iowa State (9-0) ripped it open with a 13-0 run in the first half, extending a one-point game to 27-13.
The 24th-rated Hawkeyes didn’t get closer than 10 points again. It was 41-28 at halftime, then the margin bulged to 55-34 with 12:50 to go.
“They did a good job pressuring us,” said Iowa’s Bethany Doolittle. “That got to us at times. It was a tough environment. We weren’t able to get into our game.”
The Hawkeyes (10-2), who had been so effective moving the ball this season, collected just eight assists against 18 turnovers.
“I was disappointed in the way we started the game,” Bluder said. “We had more traveling calls in the first five minutes than we had all season.
“We got back on our heels and didn’t attack the basket like we would like.”
Iowa State shot 49 free throws, making 37. Iowa was 13 of 20.
“That was too big a margin to try to overcome,” Bluder said.
Doolittle matched up with All-American candidate Hallie Christofferson, and was effective early. Christofferson finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds, but shot just 4 of 14 from the field.
“For the most part, I thought I did OK against her,” said Doolittle, who blocked three shots. “I could have been a little safer with my fouls.”
Christofferson missed her first five shots from the floor. But Brynn Williamson evened that out, hitting five first-half 3-pointers and scoring a game-high 21 points.
Iowa drew within 61-51 with 6:41 left, but Williamson made the first of two free throws at the 6:14 mark, the Cyclones got the offensive rebound on the second, and Williamson was fouled on a 3-point attempt.
She made all three free throws, and the margin was back to 14.
It was 80-65 when Fennelly brought his reserves into the game with 53 seconds left. After a steal led to a layup by Ally Disterhoft, the starters returned.
“It’s my decision, and I take full responsibility for it,” Fennelly said. “It’s my job to protect my players. If they’re going to press my second team, I’m going to do what I’ve got to do.”
Samantha Logic led the Hawkeyes with 18 points despite reopening the gash above her right eyebrow, suffered in the Syracuse game.
“I admire her so much,” Bluder said. “She came back on the court and tried her best. She’s a great leader.”
Iowa is off until Dec. 21, when it hosts Drake.
“We’ve got a lot to work on, and the time off will allow us to do that,” Doolittle said.