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AMES — Iowa State women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly knew the past week could be the most pivotal of the season.
His team passed the test.
A second win against West Virginia, this one a 68-53 final before 10,824 fans in Hilton Coliseum, was one of validation for the roster’s makeup. Iowa State’s (15-11, 6-9) big three were the catalysts offensively, but the win was as much about what it did defensively.
“I thought we were much better, kind of like football, where everybody runs to the football and tackles,” Fennelly said. “Even if we didn’t get the ball we knocked it out of bounds and could guard that way instead of trying to guard off a missed shot.”
Point guard Jadda Buckley and guards Bridget Carleton and Seanna Johnson finished with 20, 16 and 16 points, respectively — the Mountaineers (18-9, 6-9) only outscored the trio by one as a team. West Virginia committed 16 turnovers, shot just 31.7 percent from the field and trailed by as many as 21 points in the fourth quarter.
“(Fennelly’s) done a heck of a job with that team, so give them all the credit,” West Virginia coach Mike Carey said. “They played harder than we did and wanted the game more than we did, so give them all the credit.”
The Mountaineers were within one early in the third quarter, but the Cyclones went on a 13-0 run during the next 3 1/2 minutes to go up 42-28 while forcing two turnovers and four missed shots.
“The big positive is we had really good communication today,” Buckley said. “Our movement out there, whether we’re helping or had help side, I just think overall communicating with each other was a big benefit for that success.”
Iowa State has won three of its last four games in two weeks and sits in a tie for fifth in the Big 12 standings with West Virginia. The door on an NCAA tournament berth isn’t completely shut, but there is still some work to be done.
The Cyclones have road trips to Kansas (8-17, 2-12) and Texas (21-4, 14-0) preceding a home finale against Oklahoma State (14-11, 4-10).
“We need to win the games we know we can win. Going to Kansas we have to play well, and we have to play well in all the games to complete the Big 12 season,” Carleton said. “The Big 12 tournament is important so we just have to bring our best every day and that starts in practice. Hopefully it’ll turn out on the court.”
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