By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
CycloneFanatic.com’s coverage of the 2012 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Tournament in Kansas City is proudly brought to you by our good friends at Wilson Toyota of Ames located at 2212 South Duff Ave. in Ames.
KANSAS CITY — Déjà vu.
The Iowa State women’s basketball team is 4-0 against Kansas State during the last two regular seasons. Iowa State is now 0-2 vs. the Wildcats during its last two appearances in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament.
Kansas State’s First-Team All-Big 12 post Jalana Childs was a nightmare to defend on Wednesday afternoon and as a result, Iowa State was sent home early in a physical 67-63 clash.
After jumping out to an early 12-2 lead, Iowa State’s First-Team All-Big 12 player Chelsea Poppens picked up her second foul with 9:14 to go in the first half.
"When she got in foul trouble, the game changed," said Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly. "The two fouls she got were – she ran a kid over that stepped in front of her and she reached in on a rebound. You can’t do that. You can’t make those plays."
A determined Childs racked up a game-high 31 points with 10 rebounds. Iowa State held Childs to a 4-of-12 night shooting in a 57-33 Cyclone victory on Feb. 29 in Ames. It’s a game that Childs refused to forget.
"We shouldn’t have lost at Hilton. We shouldn’t have lost at home and we really wanted to prove ourselves to our coaches and to ourselves,’ said Childs. "Getting this win was very important to us. It was really good for our hearts."
Poppens only played 23 minutes for Iowa State, scoring seven points on a 3-of-9 day from the field.
"We got our butts kicked in the post. And that’s the game," said Fennelly. We can analyze it all we want but at the end of the day, their inside game just had their way with us."
Iowa State’s primary frontcourt consisting of Poppens, Hallie Christofferson and Anna Prins combined to go 8-for-22 and only score 19 points. Meanwhile, Iowa State’s guards just might have played their best game of the season. Senior Lauren Mansfield and freshman Nikki Moody scored 21 points a piece to keep Iowa State in the game.
"We could not have asked for a whole lot more from those three (along with Chassidy Cole)," said Fennelly. "They did everything that we talked about."
Moody might technically be a freshman but she sure didn’t look like a rookie in her first ever conference tournament game. Along with the 21 points, Moody dished out four assists with four rebounds and went 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
The Moody-Mansfield combination scored 25 of Iowa State’s 29 points in the first half.
"I think I definitely feel like time is running out for me so I’m going to be more aggressive," said Mansfield. "I mean, I know any game could be my last so I’m just trying to take that and play with it."
THE BUBBLE: After an early exit in the conference tournament, the conversation now turns to the NCAA Tournament. Are the Cyclones on the bubble?
"If we’ve done the things that I think we’ve done with our schedule in our league, then they’ll put us in. If not, they won’t," said Fennelly. "We’ll live with that judgement and I will be – I will tell you, I’ll be by myself a lot till Monday night because no one will want to be around me."
According to the RPI, the Cyclones finished fourth in the best league in America. When you combine that with the fact that the NCAA Tournament’s first and second rounds will take place in Ames this year, Iowa State should be fine.