AMES — When contested shots refuse to fall, Iowa State women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly amps up the aggressiveness.
When just 15 feet of open space — and no defenders — face the No. 21 Cyclones, they outshine all Big 12 competition.
“We’ve just told them just attack the basket, try to get to the free throw line,” Fennelly said of his players, who will try to stop a rare three-game home skid today at 8 p.m. against Kansas State at Hilton Coliseum.
“That’s been the one place where we’ve had some success.”
The Cyclones (15-5, 4-5) have made more free throws (384) than the Wildcats (9-11, 3-6) have attempted (372). ISU leads the conference in foul-line accuracy at 79.5 percent.
So the Cyclones will drive it, push it and invite contact from Kansas State, which won the previous meeting 80-74 at Manhattan.
“We went in there not knowing really what they were capable of,” said guard/forward Seanna Johnson. “So I guess we just played the game how we shouldn’t have.”
One thing the Cyclones should do this time around: Bottle up guard Leti Romero. She poured in a career-best 27 points in a career-high 39 minutes against ISU last month.
“Can’t fall asleep,” said Fennelly, whose team has won five straight against the Wildcats at Hilton. “Can’t get back cut, can’t break down at the end of the shot clock. She’s playing at a very high level. We’ve going to have to play a lot better than we did down there two weeks ago.”
Forward Hallie Christofferson shot a season-worst 2 of 11 from the field in that loss and finished with four points. She hadn’t scored that few since a loss in Manhattan a year earlier and is fresh off back-to-back 20-point efforts.
“(In the last loss at West Virginia), Hallie had 20 and no one else got into double figures,” Fennelly said. “When we were playing well, it was usually three (in double figures) — it wasn’t always the same three, but it was three.
“And you can look at any statistical number you want to look at and it’s not very pretty as far as the way we’re shooting the ball.”
The Cyclones have hit just 9 of their last 63 from long range at home. That’s 14.3 percent.
Losing makes that a glaring stat.
Winning eases nerves and makes the basket look larger from any distance.“You never want to be a good loser,” said shooting guard Brynn Williamson. “The approach is we’re going to win our next one — going into every game wanting to be 1-0.”