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Rob Gray Lee Correspondent
AMES — There’s only one thing a college basketball coach should do after a 50-point victory.
That’s finicky, and Iowa State University women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly complied.
“The nitty-gritty part is true,” Fennelly said after the No. 8 Cyclones dispatched Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (SIUE), 93-43, Tuesday night at the Hilton Coliseum. “I don’t care what the score is. There are always things that we have to do much better. Our attention to detail defensively, our offensive rebounding (have) to improve. And obviously in the last two games, we can’t do a 3”.
ISU (6-1) struggled from beyond the arc for the second straight game, draining just 9 of 32 shots (28.1%) from long range, but outright outscored the injury-plagued Cougars (0-6) in every other game. categories to bounced back from a tough 73-64 loss to sixth-ranked North Carolina on Sunday at the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, Oregon.
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“We got to (the) Sukup (Basketball Complex) at six in the morning (Monday) and we practiced that afternoon for a very short time, but we were really committed,” Fennelly said. “We talked a lot about what we need to do moving forward and I was probably happier yesterday than today, to be honest with you, but we have that kind of group.”
Reigning Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year Lexi Donarski overcame early-season shooting woes and scored 22 points in 27 minutes. She also matched forward Stephanie Soares, who was 6-6 with a game-high three steals as she shot 7-for-13 from the field and 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
“The team was moving the ball very well,” Donarski said. “I think it was a great game after Portland and it was fun to come here and play in front of our crowd.”
ISU recorded 23 assists on their 33 field goals and limited SIUE to 26.2% shooting. The Cyclones forced 11 turnovers in the first half alone and went 18-of-19 from the free throw line, but as Fennelly noted, they couldn’t knock down several open three-pointers they normally would.
“We shot 32 tonight and we shot 35 the other night, and I would say 60 of the 67 were nowhere near them,” Fennelly said. “That’s something we have to get better at and I know we can because I’ve seen them do it.”
ISU point guard Emily Ryan scored 13 points on just six field goal attempts and dished out a game-high seven assists. Soares notched the fourth double-double of her career (11 points, 10 rebounds) and the Cyclones had as many blocked shots as turnovers (seven each).
“Everyone contributes and helps each other,” said Soares, who was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week on Monday. “That’s what makes a great team.”
Fennelly is convinced that’s what he’s got in this season’s team, all niceties aside. And a 50-point win against a completely outmatched foe will be long forgotten when the Cyclones travel to Iowa City on Dec. 7 to take on 10th-ranked Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“It’s like I’ve said many times, these games in the state are special,” Fennelly said. “And obviously they have a very, very good team.”