Poppens, Christofferson propel ISU past Kansas
DALLAS – Iowa State senior forward Chelsea Poppens could not have played better in the Cyclones’ first game in the Big 12 Conference women’s tournament on Saturday.
The former Aplington-Parkersburg star finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds and was 10-for-13 from the floor and 4-of-5 from the foul line in a 77-62 win over the Jayhawks at American Airlines Center.
“They are a team that can score a lot of points,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “To hold them to 62 was good. Those are things you need to do all season but if you don’t do them in March you won’t keep playing.”
It was Poppens’ 30 career double-double. Hallie Christofferson added 23 and was 8-of-8 from the charity stripe in the win, while senior center Anna Prins chipped in 14 points and eight boards.
Iowa State shot 18-of-19 from the line, made 46 percent of its shots from the floor and outrebounded Kansas 40-29.
The Cyclones will next play third-seeded Oklahoma (22-9) at 3:30 p.m. today. The other semifinal pits top-seeded Baylor and fourth-seeded Oklahoma State. It is Iowa State’s first Big 12 semifinal since 2009.
“The confidence level is high,” Fennelly said. “This team likes each other and gets along and those teams are special. This is a moment in time you don’t want to waste.”
Iowa State (22-7) trailed 8-2 early in the game but used a 23-6 run over the next nine minutes to take control of the game. Christofferson scored 16 points during the run and the Cyclones eventually led 34-26 at halftime.
Prins scored all 14 of her points in the second half as the Cyclones’ lead grew to 22 points with 6:05 remaining in the game.
Carolyn Davis led the Jayhawks with 17 points and six boards and Chelsea Gardner added 12 before fouling out. No other Kansas player scored in double-figures as the Jayhawks were just 3-of-13 from long range and 5-of-10 from the line.
“Our kids have embraced playing defense,” Fennelly said. “We did a pretty good job on Davis. Anna played really well in the second half. Putting another big strong player on (Davis) made it tough.”
ISU point guard Nikki Moody had 10 assists in the game, becoming the eighth player in Big 12 history to have that amount in a tournament game. She also is just six assists shy of setting a new Iowa State single season record. Lyndsey Medders set the current mark of 216 in 2007.
“She has an explosive bounce,” Fennelly said of Moody. “She got to the rim a couple of times and dumped it off a couple times. When she can get that going, she is tough to stop.”