AMES — The Iowa State women’s basketball team has an identity that contradicts West Virginia’s physical style of play.
Iowa State didn’t get rattled by the physical style Saturday night at Hilton Coliseum and was able to stay in rhythm and able to stay in its offense in a 77-61 win.
“West Virginia’s style doesn’t fit ours,” Coach Bill Fennelly said. “We play the game a little differently. In this league, you need to play the way that you play. Tonight, we played the way that Iowa State plays. It’s a group that’s very connected. This group is extremely connected. It’s as much, or more connected than any team we’ve had here in a long time. They understand, and they enjoy playing with and for each other.”
And the way Iowa State (18-5, 8-3 Big 12) plays is by the sum of its parts. Bridget Carleton has been and will continue to be the key cog that allows the offensive machine to run. On Saturday, she had 23 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Her scoring is usually supplemented by post player Kristin Scott and freshman guard Ashley Joens.
Scott had a game-high 29 points on 12-of-17 shooting and eight rebounds. Joens had 11 points on 5-for-9 shooting, three rebounds and two assists.
On defense, it’s the Maddie Wise show. The sophomore has taken it upon herself to guard the opposing team’s best player. In this case, it was Tynice Martin, who averaged 18 points per game coming into Saturday’s showdown. Wise held her to 2-of-15 shooting from the field and 0-for-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Martin finished with just six points.
“Maddie Wise did an incredible job today on their best player, Martin. And Kristin was obviously huge today,” Carleton said. “I think those two were the differences in the game. Maddie worked her butt off on defense for 40 minutes today because Tynice comes off a lot of different screens — stagger screens, ball screens — she just worked and worked and worked.”
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Fennelly said Wise and Scott have changed Iowa State’s team for the better — Scott offensively as another scoring threat and Wise defensively as a lock-down defender.
“You have to have someone that accepts that (lock-down defender role),” Fennelly said. “Maddie wants to do wants to do it, we challenged her to do it. Obviously, what it does is it kind of takes your legs a little bit and it makes your shot maybe not as good as it usually is.
“It’s an example of, when Bridget’s first comments were about Maddie Wise, that tells you that Bridget gets it, her teammates get it, that Maddie impacted the game. Whatever you do in life, I tell them, ‘What are you doing that impacts success every single day?’ Right now, for our team, Maddie Wise’s main thing is to defend. She likes it, she’s good at it and it’s changed our team.”
Fennelly’s made it no secret that he likes this team a lot. So much so that he’s putting up a graphic inside Hilton of this current team.
“There’s a graphic we’re going to put up in Hilton of players on the bench cheering and screaming, and it’s the starters that are cheering and screaming,” Fennelly said. “That says that they care about one another. This is what athletics is about.
“This is going to end in four or six weeks and they may never replace this (experience). There are times in your life when you have something special and you don’t want to lose it and you want to savor it. These kids have that opportunity. I just keep telling them, ‘Don’t waste it, don’t take it for granted and enjoy it.’ This group is doing it.”
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