Recharged, refocused ISU women prepare for West Virginia

Published: January 14 2014 | 10:48 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 2:04 am in

 AMES — Kidd Blaskowsky got her watch fixed.

Nikki Moody enjoyed a bit of “me” time.

All of Iowa State’s players relaxed and refocused Sunday thanks to their first full day off from practice and games since Christmas.

The valuable down time just happened to follow the Cyclones’ first loss of the season, while preceding the resumption of classes and another stern Big 12 basketball test — Wednesday's 7 p.m. Big 12 matchup with long, skilled and strong West Virginia at Hilton Coliseum.

“It gave everybody a minute to sit down and just think,” said Moody, who ranks fourth in the conference in assists at 5.5 per game. “To sit there and come back with a better mindset.”

ISU (14-1, 3-1, and ranked No. 9 in the latest USA Today coaches poll) looked lost at times in Saturday’s 69-62 setback to Oklahoma State and must become more consistently engaged on the offensive end against the Mountaineers (14-2, 3-1).

Often, the task of reviving the offense naturally falls to Moody, but she can’t do it alone.

The Cyclones passed up some open shots as star forward Hallie Christofferson battled foul trouble against the Cowgirls — with one notable exception.

That was freshman guard/forward Seanna Johnson, who twice pulled ISU within three points in the waning moments with a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws.

She finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds and earned her third Big 12 newcomer of the week honor.

“I think Seanna was our best player and arguably one of the best players in the game,” Fennelly said. “We were on the verge of getting knocked out. I mean, we were on the ropes and they were about ready to stop it. She makes a 3. She gets an offensive rebound; gave us a chance. That’s something she just continues to do.”

Fellow freshman Jadda Buckley’s done that at times, too — especially 10 days ago at Oklahoma, where she scored a career-best 29 points in an 82-75 overtime win.

Moody will take all the help she can get when Christofferson’s unable to be on the floor.

“We need more than just one person doing that,” Moody said. “If every team expects one person doing it, they’re only going to guard that one person. I think we have a lot of ability to have other people doing it.”

The collective approach doesn’t just center on initiating offense.

Against West Virginia, it will have to apply to board work, as well.

The Mountaineers rank second in the Big 12 in offensive rebounds per game at 16.7.

Their obvious standard-bearer is 6-4 post Asya Bussie, who ranks among the top ten in the league in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots and field goal percentage.

“A kid that can score on the block and creates a lot of problems because she’s long, she’s athletic,” Fennelly said. “She’s preseason all-Big 12 for a reason.”

She’s the top player on a team best faced after being recharged and refreshed.

The Mountaineers were the only team other than Baylor to win in Hilton last season.

“They’re going to be quick, they’re going to be ready to go,” Blaskowsky said. “We’re going to have to stay together and fight through it and play our hearts out.”

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