AMES — The Iowa State women’s basketball team was off to a slow start on Sunday. Then Jadda Buckley’s 3-pointer swished through the net with 8:20 to play in the second quarter of their exhibition game with Concordia-St. Paul.
That shot put the Cyclones up nine and took the lid off of the basket. Prior to it, the Cyclones had missed their first five shots from behind their arc and shot just 20 percent from the field in the first quarter.
Five Cyclones combineed to knock down seven 3-pointers during the second period and extended Iowa State’s lead to as high as 24 on its way to a 77-51 win over the Golden Bears.
“The game is hard enough, and when you have an opportunity to score, you need to,” Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said. “It’s the same team, same players, same place, we have 12 points in the first quarter and 27 the second quarter and I think we shot 50 percent in that second quarter. Sometimes it’s not that simple, but tonight I think it was that simple.”
Buckley led the way for the Cyclones by scoring 12 points, including two 3-pointers. She dished out seven assists while continuing to adjust to the role as Iowa State’s primary ball-handler.
“Just settling in,” Buckley said. “Coach has been helping me a lot, just with pointers, that’s pretty evident on the side and then during practice. Just been reading the court, running the plays and just settling in.”
Junior guard Seanna Johnson joined Buckley in double-figures adding 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists while playing limited minutes as she continues to recover from a knee injury suffered during practice.
Des Moines-native Meredith Burkhall struggled from the floor, but a big day from the free throw line helped her reach double-figures scoring in her first start as a Cyclone. The freshman scored 10 points, on 2-7 shooting from the floor and 6-10 from the free throw line. She grabbed eight rebounds after replacing Madison Baier in the starting five.
“She’s played the best,” Fennelly said. “We started Madi the first game because she’s a senior and I wanted to give her that opportunity. So far through all the practices, Mer’s been the best five-man. She’s earned it. I think for us, that position is going to be very fluid. Not just game to game, but within the game. We have four of them that are going to play and it’s a battle to get those minutes.”
Sophomores Emily Durr (10 points and two 3-pointers) and Bryanna Fernstrom (11 points and nine boards) were the last two Cyclones to score in double-digits.
The Cyclones knocked down 10 shots from behind the arc and shot 32 percent from the field in their last exhibition action before the regular season gets underway next Friday against Hampton at Hilton Coliseum.
“It’s a team that almost every single year is in the NCAA Tournament,” Fennelly said. “Our opening weekend’s hard. I mean, Hampton’s athletic and is a very good team, then you turn around in one day and go to Drake, who will be a very good team too. We’ll find out right away.”
Things I liked
Second quarter shooting
The Cyclones were incredibly fun to watch after the lid came off the basket during the second quarter. They were swinging the ball with ease and whipping it all around the floor before taking, and generally making, some pretty good shots.
It will be important for ISU to get off to faster starts once regular season play gets underway, but they showed that they can shoot with the best of them by knocking down seven 3-pointers during that six-minute span.
When the Cyclones go big
One of the things I really like about this Iowa State team is how dynamic they can be with their lineups. They can go small with a ton of shooting or they can go big with some killer athletes that run the floor.
I especially liked the lineup with Burkhall and Fernstrom both on the floor. Burkhall is a more traditional down-low threat, while Fernstrom’s ability to shoot from deep helps keep the floor spaced.
Coach Fennelly said after the game it isn’t a lineup they plan to utilize often, but it could bring a nice change up for the Cyclones from time to time.
Things I didn’t like
The slow start
It didn’t really matter in the end, but moving forward the Cyclones need to figure out a way to get off to faster starts. Shooting 20 percent from the floor and going 0-5 from behind the arc to start the game just isn’t going to cut it.
The Cyclones did lead 12-6 at the end of the first quarter, but that had more to do with the fact that their opponent shot just 16 percent from the floor. ISU proved they were much better than Concordia throughout the rest of the game, but I’d like to see them come out and do it right away from the start.
Slow starts like that won’t work when it’s Baylor instead of a Division II team.
The new bonus rules
The new fouling rules didn’t come into effect much during Iowa State’s first exhibition on Thursday, but we saw what they can do during the second one.
Both teams found their way into the bonus at different points during the game Sunday and the two teams combined to shoot 48 free throws. Sunday’s game was definitely a physical one, especially as exhibition games go, but I’m hopeful this isn’t how games will go all season long.
It doesn’t take long to reach that five team foul number when the refs start blowing their whistles. This is definitely something to keep an eye on.