Father knows best: Bill’s Cyclones top Steven’s Titans
AMES – The Hilton Coliseum faithful stood and applauded as Cal State Fullerton coach Steven Fennelly was introducted prior?to
Sunday’s women’s basketball game against the hometown Cyclones.
Not until the second half did Iowa State’s fans have much else to cheer about.
Bill Fennelly and his No. 20 Cyclones held a two-point lead over Steven Fennelly’s Titans at the intermission, but a 52-27 second-half surge lifted Iowa State to its eighth straight win to start the season, 79-52, on Sunday afternoon.
In the first game pitting father versus son, Bill Fennelly’s team came to life after a sluggish first half and got its superstar going. Senior forward Hallie Christofferson scored 21 of her career-high 33 points in the second half and the Cyclones remained unbeaten heading into Thursday’s in-state showdown with No. 25 Iowa.
“If Hallie doesn’t do what Hallie does today, I don’t know that we lose, but it’s a different game,” said the elder Fennelly. “But that’s what great players do. Great players pull their team to another level on any given night.”
Cal State Fullerton (1-7) attempted a school-record 40 3-pointers, making 11 of them – but what else could be expected of a Fennelly-coached club. Iowa State made seven triples – all in the second half – to extend its NCAA-record streak to 589 consecutive games with a 3-pointer.
This was only the 17th time in the streak, however, that the Cyclones didn’t make a trey in the first half, and it was reflected by the score.
“No excuses, I don’t want to take anything away from Fullerton,” Bill Fennelly said. “We were outplayed and outcoached in the first half. In the second half we were making shots and I thought we defended a little bit better, and we had the best player in the game by far.
“When Hallie’s playing the way she’s playing and we’re getting her the ball the way we did, that’s good for our team.”
The Cyclones played without starting guard Brynn Williamson, who Fennelly said could have played “in an emergency” after sustaining a head contusion, but not a concussion, during practice.
South Tama County graduate Madison Baier, who has served primarily as Christofferson’s backup, went down during the game with an undisclosed injury and saw just 10 minutes of action.
“Without Brynn and without the depth that Madi gives us we were a little shorthanded and had to do some things a little different, but I’m glad that game’s over,” Fennelly said. “We better wake up because we’re sitting on the track and the train’s coming here Thursday and we better get ready.”
The Cyclones can ride a 52-point second half into their in-state clash. Iowa State shot 63.6 percent (14-for-22) from the field after intermission, going 7-for-9 from 3-point range as well as 17-for-20 from the free-throw line.
Nicole Blaskowsky came off the bench to score 16 points, Jadda Buckley had 10 points, and Nikki Moody contributed eight points and a season-high nine assists. Seanna Johnson pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds.
In Fullerton’s first game against a Big 12 Conference opponent in seven years, Hailey King led the Titans with 13 points. Alex Thomas added 11 points and Chante Miles had 10 more.
Fullerton was within seven points after a 10-0 surge fueled by back-to-back triples by Thomas and Samantha Logan, but Iowa State outscored the Titans 21-1 over the final 7 minutes.
“I want to thank the fans for the very nice ovation they gave Steven when his name was announced,” Bill Fennelly said to open his postgame press conference. “That’s something he’ll remember his entire life – and certainly mom and dad will remember it to. It just shows the amazing, amazing class and dignity and support that our fans give our program, but they know Steven’s a Cyclone to the bone.”