AMES — During every postgame press conference Iowa State women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly says two things.
First, he thanks the fans for attending the game, and second, he says that senior guard Bridget Carleton is the best player in the conference.
After the Cyclones’ most recent game against Baylor, Fennelly said that any coaches who don’t think Carleton is the Big 12 Conference Player of the Year should call him personally.
Carleton has scored 2,020 points, becoming the second Cyclone ever to reach the 2,000-point milestone.
This season, Carleton is top five in the conference in points, assists, rebounds and steals. She leads the Big 12 in scoring, averaging 22 points, and steals with 2.2. Carleton is fourth in the conference in rebounding, grabbing 8.7 per game and is fifth in assists with 4.2. To top it off, Carleton is just outside the top five in blocks, with 1.3 per game.
“We’ve been fortunate to watch Bridget grow as a person as a player,” Fennelly said. “She is truly one of the best basketball players in the country. She’s played and acted like it. She’s earned it because she’s worked so hard. It’s fun to see her do what she’s doing.
At 6:30 p.m. Monday against Kansas at Hilton Coliseum, Carleton will be honored during the Cyclones’ senior night. She’ll be joined by fellow seniors Alexa Middleton, Meredith Burkhall and Ines Nezerwa.
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No. 22 Iowa State is coming off an 82-73 win over No. 19 Texas. The Cyclones (22-7, 12-5) are playing for a chance to finish second in the Big 12 outright behind Baylor.
“If we win Monday night, we’ll be the No. 2 seed,” Fennelly said. “I had someone email me because I made a big deal about having the opportunity to finish second and they weren’t real happy with my comment. I should’ve phrased that different because second is the best this team could finish because Baylor has already won the league.
“For this team, to have that opportunity, in this league is great. We were picked to finish sixth in the preseason. Our seniors have done a great job.”
Kansas, the worst team in the Big 12, is just 12-16 overall and 2-15 in the Big 12.
“I told our kids, ‘There aren’t a lot of times where you get to dictate what happens — we all have a boss. This is your chance to dictate where we finish. If we win, no one can change that,’” Fennelly said. “That’s the way we’re going to approach it.”
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