AMES, IOWA — Bill Fennelly left Hilton Coliseum on Tuesday night, a 17-point victory in hand, but headed for his office across town not quite satisfied.
“The issue we’re having right now is we play a good high school game, 32 minutes,” Fennelly said. “Unfortunately the game is 40 and we decide that when we get ahead 28 points we can just shut it down and not play the game the right way. It’s got to get corrected, because it’s wrong.”
A slow start — the Cyclones didn’t score in the first three minutes — was overcome with an 11-0 run that eventually helped Iowa State to a 24-point halftime lead. When that lead swelled to 28 in the second half, Drake soon followed with an 11-0 run of its own, which is what troubled Fennelly.
Drake scored 46 points in the second half, helped by a 45.7 percent clip from the field and 11 made free throws. Iowa State avoided a letdown in large part because of senior guard Nikki Moody, who stepped up in the second half.
Moody finished with 18 points (with 5 3-pointers), 12 assists and eight rebounds, scoring 15 points in the second half to help propel the Cyclones.
“I think we really needed it in a big way,” Fennelly said. “Nikki is a senior and she hit some big shots. She’s not known as a great 3-point shooter and she hit some big ones. She was, without question, the best player in the game for us.”
Finishing two rebounds shy of the first triple-double since 2009, Moody pointed instead to the four turnovers next to her name on the stat sheet.
“I could have done a lot better,” said Moody, who tallied her seventh-career double-double. “I didn’t take control of the offense like I should have and I feel like I let my teammates down with how many turnovers we had.”
That was the overall feeling despite advancing to a 2-0 start to the 2014-15 season Tuesday. It’s why Fennelly headed to the office and why Iowa State will seek corrections beginning with Thursday’s practice.
“Like I said, we get up 28 and then all of a sudden… I don’t know,” Fennelly said. “Like every coach, ’40 minutes. 40 minutes. 40 minutes.’ Our team hasn’t figured that out yet, and we need to get that figured out quickly. If we do, I think you can see some really good things out of this team. If we don’t we’re going to struggle mightily against teams that are — again, nothing against Drake — better, bigger, stronger than Drake.”