Less than 24 hours after Steve Prohm & Co. completed their seemingly
improbable comeback on Thursday, Cyclone fans will once again flock to Hilton Coliseum. This time, it's the ladies' turn to take on Iowa in the Cy-Hawk Series.
Will the Magic of yesterday night still be in the air? The Cyclones had better hope so. The #23 Hawkeyes are a force to be reckoned with. At 8-1, Iowa's only blemish is a double overtime loss to George Washington, another ranked team. Yes, Iowa has never beat Bill Fennelly at Hilton, but Iowa State will need more than just double-double machine Seanna Johnson to show up on Friday.
In his Tuesday press conference, Bill Fennelly said Iowa has incredible efficiency and balance on the offensive end. He noted the Cyclones (4-3) will need to keep the Hawkeyes off the free throw line, but, more importantly, Fennelly said his team must find more ways to score.
Freshman guard Bridget Carleton could be the much-needed catalyst for Iowa State's offense, but it's still unclear if she will play for the first time since Nov. 27. Carleton is listed as a projected starter; however, she continues to recover from a mouth injury during the Duke game. According to Fennelly, he's never seen a player get hit harder than Carleton did against the Blue Devils. Freshman forward and Iowa native Meredith Burkhall was impressive with 18 points and eight rebounds in Iowa State's last game. The Cyclones, whose offensive efficiency has been lacking early in the season, will need another strong performance from Burkhall.
The Hawkeyes, a Sweet Sixteen team last year, boast the nation's #17 recruiting class. Iowa has eight underclassmen on its roster, but junior guard Ally Disterhoft is the current scoring leader for the Hawkeyes with over 16 points per game. Alexa Kastanek and Chase Coley also average double digit scoring for Iowa. Coach Lisa Bluder has guided Iowa to eight straight NCAA tournaments. Bluder leads an experienced program, but wins at Hilton have proven elusive for the Hawkeyes. A lot is on the line for both teams, even beyond Cy-Hawk bragging rights. A win against Iowa could push the Cyclones toward an undefeated December and spring the team into Big 12 play. A road victory for Iowa would cement its status as a top 25 squad and a potential contender in the Big 10.
To be competitive, Iowa State must get some timely threes from Kidd Blaskowsky and Jadda Buckley. Effective post play is essential to give these two guards some open looks. The Cyclones must also take advantage of Iowa's high turnover rate (16 per game). If Iowa State can hang around until the 4th quarter, expect Hilton Magic to take over once again and lead the Cyclones to victory.
Iowa State 71 - Iowa 69
Tip: 7 p.m. CST
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
Cyclones.com Game Notes: Available here