The Iowa State women needed just a little magic - perhaps of the Hilton and Hogwarts variety - on Tuesday against Northern Iowa. With a 76-68 victory over the Panthers during Harry Potter night at Hilton Coliseum, the Cyclones moved to 2-0 on the season.
Jadda Buckley led the way for Iowa State with 25 points on 8-12 shooting. The junior guard was a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line. Senior guard Seanna Johnson added 18 rebounds.
Iowa State appeared in control for most of the game, but UNI kept things close throughout the first half and even tied the game late in the 3rd quarter. The Cyclones were never ahead by more than 10 points and needed Buckley's strong scoring night to earn the win.
Both teams struggled to shoot in the 1st quarter, but two three-point baskets helped guide the Cyclones to a 15-11 lead after the first 10 minutes.
The Cyclones played nine people in the 1st, a welcome sign of depth following last year's struggles with a thin bench. Nia Washington was first off the bench for the Cyclones, and Emily Durr quickly joined Washington on the floor after Bridget Carleton picked up two quick fouls less than four minutes into the game. Adriana Camber and Heather Bowe also came off the bench in the 1st.
Washington spent some time at the point guard position, even when Buckley was in the game, a sign that coach Bill Fennelly could look to the freshman to give Buckley more off-ball scoring opportunities throughout the season.
Camber provided a spark off the bench with a three pointer late in the 1st half that gave Iowa State a 31-23 lead. Fennelly noted he made a mistake by not playing Camber more in the game. Bowe finished with eight points. Iowa State led 34-30 at the half.
Johnson continued to impress on the glass, ripping down five rebounds just five minutes into the game. Her 18 boards accounted for nearly half of Iowa State's total rebounds. In his post-game press conference, Fennelly called Johnson, "the toughest kid in the game and the most committed kid in the game," but he said other players need to improve their rebounding.
Carleton logged only four minutes in the 1st half, but she started the scoring for Iowa State in the 2nd half with a three pointer that gave the Cyclones a seven-point lead. The Cyclones couldn't put a strong run together, and, halfway through the 3rd quarter, UNI tied the game at 43-43 with a jumper by Hannah Schonhardt.
Bowe made a much-needed three with a minute to play in the 3rd, and a steal from Bowe led to two Johnson free throws that gave Iowa State a 54-47 lead going into the 4th quarter.
Buckley offered Iowa State some breathing room and a 56-47 lead to start the 4th. UNI didn't get any closer than six points in the 4th. Fennelly said he hopes Buckley and Johnson won't need to play nearly 40 minutes per game, but he also noted they both give Iowa State the best chance to win.
Drake comes to Hilton on Sunday for a 6pm tipoff. The Bulldogs are 1-0 and defeated North Dakota 99-91 last Friday.