Cyclones hit triples, stop Holy Cross
AMES – The Cyclones needed a little time to shake off the rust from a 15-day layoff.
Though once they found their stroke, there was no way Holy Cross could keep pace.
Burying eight 3-pointers in the first half, the No. 14 Iowa State women’s basketball team used a 22-8 run to break away from the Crusaders in a 72-50 victory at the Cyclone Challenge Saturday.
Nikki Moody had 14 points and 10 assists to lead a quartet of double-digit scorers as the Cyclones (10-0) will face William & Mary (3-7) today in the championship game at 3:30 p.m. The Tribe defeated Saint Louis 66-56 in the opening contest Saturday.
Iowa State fell behind 6-0 before catching fire from outside. Kidd Blaskowsky shot 3-of-3 beyond the arc in the first half to spark the run and finished with 11 points and six rebounds off the bench. Jadda Buckley connected on a career-best four of her six 3-point attempts for 12 points and Hallie Christofferson tallied 11 points and six boards.
“Nikki, Brynn (Williamson) and Kidd were the difference in the game in the first half, the energy they brought defensively,” said ISU coach Bill Fennelly. “Nikki’s first half was as good since she’s been on campus. She almost had a double-double by halftime.”
Moody matched her season-high with nine assists in the first half as the Cyclones established a 41-22 cushion at the break.
Adjusting to the Crusaders’ zone, Iowa State shot 16-for-28 from the field (57 percent) in the opening half and connected on 44 percent of its 3s to build its big lead heading into the locker room. Holy Cross (7-3) shot just 29 percent in the first half and made just 3-of-19 from deep in the game. Raquel Scott led the Crusaders with 14 points and seven rebounds as the Cyclones earned a 46-35 advantage on the glass.
Williamson limited Alex Smith to five points – 11 below her average – on 2-of-13 shooting, along with six assists and four steals. Molly Hourigan was the only other Crusader in double figures with 10 points as the visitors were held 24 points below their season average.
“We were really locked in defensively,” said Fennelly. “That starts with the way Brynn guarded their best player.”
Five Cyclones had at least six rebounds with volleyball standout Tenisha Matlock grabbing six along with four points. Seanna Johnson (6 rebounds) and Fallon Ellis scored seven points apiece and Brynn Williamson (7 rebounds) had six. ISU outscored Holy Cross 12-4 on second chance points and attempted 32 3-pointers in the game as the Crusaders challenged ISU to beat them from outside.
“Threes are a key part of this team,” said Blaskowsky. “We have the shooters and when we see daylight, you have to take it whether it’s a comfortable shot or not.”
Iowa State clinched the third-best start in school history and can complete the third undefeated non-conference mark for the program with a victory today.
Fennelly said a big sign hangs from the Cyclones’ locker room door reminding players there’s four days left in the non-conference season with two practices and two games.
“We talk all the time about finishing things,” said Fennelly. “Anyone can start.”
Iowa State will look to put the finishing touches on a perfect non-conference mark today after Holy Cross faces Saint Louis (5-7) in the consolation final at 1 p.m.
The Cyclones, who started 12-0 in the 1995-96 and 2001-02 seasons, have won 76 straight games outside the Big 12 at Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State extended its NCAA-record 3-point streak to 591 games and has hit 10 or more treys in six games this year. Iowa State has had an even or positive rebound margin in all 10 of its games. Matlock joined the squad after Madison Baier went down with a season-ending knee injury and recorded her first points and rebounds of the season Saturday.
“It’s fun to see ‘T’ in there. I don’t know that I’ve seen someone so excited to make a basket,” said Fennelly. “It’s an amazing story what that kid is doing for us and what she’s trying to do. It’s selfless.”