AMES, Iowa — If the trademark of a senior has eluded Nikki Moody at times this season, it certainly wasn't lost as she sat on the bench now, pressing to return to the game with her bum left ankle.
Over and over Moody was asked by coach Bill Fennelly if she could play. There was never any doubt what her answer would be. Moody was going to play.
The senior point guard injured her left ankle with just more than two minutes remaining in the first half Wednesday, but her leadership and toughness eventually helped guide Iowa State past TCU's pressure, helping the Cyclones avenge a loss in Fort Worth, Texas, with a 80-62 victory.
"I was planning on coming back in the game," Moody said afterward, her ankle tightly wrapped with ice. "They kept asking me how it felt and I just kept telling them, at the end of the day I can play."
When Iowa State left Fort Worth in the early part of its nonconference schedule, it did so having watched a 24-point second-half lead evaporate into the warm Texas air. It is a loss the Cyclones have been reminded of.
There were no such worries this time around.
Five Iowa State players scored in double-figures, including Moody with 15 points. The Cyclones were led in scoring by Bryanna Fernstrom, who scored 18 points off the bench after having started in past games.
The story, though, was Moody, who went to the ground writhing in pain with 2:17 remaining in the first half and Iowa State leading by five. The Cyclones eventually took a seven-point lead to the break, but questions remained whether Moody would be able to contribute.
"I asked Nikki over and over, ‘Are you sure? Are you sure?’ She said she could go," Fennelly said. "I’m sure the adrenaline of the game got her through it and she toughed it out, which was good."
Moody scored eight of her 15 points in the second half, but was especially key when TCU attempted to pressure Iowa State. It was pressure which had allowed the Horned Frogs to come roaring back earlier this month, and Moody knew she needed to play.
"I just thought about back at their house," Moody said. "As soon as I came out of the game, they just tried to press and try to get easy buckets. I knew I needed to be there for my teammates in that sense and get the ball up the court to get us shots and stuff. That’s all I was focusing on."
After TCU scored the first basket of the second half, Iowa State used a 10-0 run to build a 15-point lead. It eventually reached 22 points while the Cyclones fended off unsuccessful comeback attempts by TCU.
Moody, who had been removed from the starting lineup for Saturday's game against Kansas State, has responded since.
"I really think after we benched her Saturday, the way she played Saturday, the way she played tonight, that’s the way Iowa State seniors — especially Iowa State senior point guards — are supposed to do," Fennelly said. "There’s a wall of them in our practice facility and they all have the same characteristics. I think the last two games that’s exactly what she’s done."