Bill Fennelly Post-Game: Loyola Marymount

The Iowa State women's basketball team beat Loyola Marymount on Saturday to conclude the non-conference portion of the schedule with a sterling 12-1 record heading into what should be another challenging season in the Big 12 Conference.

The Iowa State women's basketball team got its third big win in three nights in defeating Loyola Marymount 71-55. Heading in to the tournament, LMU appeared to be the one team that could compete with the Cyclones and they didn't disappoint. The Lions led by four with about seven minutes left in the first half before Iowa State went on a 17-0 run. Iowa State carried that momentum into the second half and continued to pull away. Head coach Bill Fennelly again had nothing but positive comments after the game as the Cyclones head in to Big 12 play with a record of 12-1. 

Bill Fennelly on the overall effort.

First of all I really want to thank the staff here and all of the fans. It's a lot of work having games three nights in a row. A lot of people put a lot of work in to having this event. It's one of the best tournaments in the country. Everyone loves the way we treat people. I thought we beat a very good team. I think Marymount plays hard. They challenged us on the perimeter and challenged us in the post. It's nice that Lyndsey Medders could break such an important record, win the game and play so well. I think it's a special night for her and it should be. She has a great game, she is MVP of the tournament, her parents are here, and ironically she breaks the record against a team from southern California. I am very proud of all of our team. There are a lot of things that have been accomplished, and all I told them was to enjoy their family and friends tonight. Don't think about Kansas. Don't think about anything. We will start worrying about that when the time is right, but right now they need to enjoy where they are.

Lyndsey sparked the team when Loyola Marymount came back in the second half. The one thing that Lyndsey did tonight was make some shots. She has really been struggling shooting the ball, and she hit some big shots for us. When she gets in to the flow of the game, she is hard to guard. We scored 71 points and she is responsible for 39 of them at least with nine assists and 21 points. That's a dramatic impact on the game. This was a game that every time she had the ball you felt like something good was going to happen. She put us in a lot of good positions, and she put her teammates in a lot of good positions. I think that was a big part of our success. It was not a normal game for us where we have a lot of balance. We had some kids that struggled and didn't play as well as they had been playing. When that happens, you have to find someone that understands.

Were you a little worried early on when the game was close?
BF: I was very worried. There were a couple times where she had shots she should have taken and she passed the ball. I don't know if she wanted to get it over with. That's been such a topic of discussion here for a long, long time. I think you have to give Marymount credit. They played us very hard. We had trouble with their big people early. The first ten minutes of the game last night and the last six minutes of the first half tonight were two pieces of games as good as we have played. We were efficient on offense. We only turned the ball over 12 times again tonight and had 19 assists. We defended really well. When [Kavita] Goss hit that three to put us down by four, you could see that even Lyndsey's body language was not very good. We were struggling to find offense. I thought we defended great for about four minutes. That was enough. A lot of the games at this level, you counter-punch each other for a long time and someone has to put together a string, and we put together two of them.

What did you do to shut them down late in the first half?
BF: We were changing defenses a lot on their personnel groupings, and our kids adjusted really well to that. That's one think as a coach that you are very proud of. We had a 45-minute walkthrough where we talked about what we wanted to do. We did some things that we hadn't done all season defensively, so you don't really practice them. We have never double-teamed the post-man playing man-to-man defense, and we did it and got three steals. That's kids that understand the game and are willing to come out of their comfort zone and make plays. We defended great and took their best players out of the game. They missed a couple of shots. It was a very important part of the game. Sometimes it's offense that dictates the game and sometimes it's defense. For us it's usually not defense, but it was tonight.

What does having back-to-back point guards set the assist record mean to you?
BF: Any basketball is so driven by guard play. It really is. It sounds like we better start recruiting Lyndsey's from the west coast. We have been blessed to have two players that are very committed to doing things right. Both really understood the game, and both knew how to put their teams in successful positions. I have been enamored with people that break assist records and rebound records because that's a team thing. You have to be unselfish to do that. You have to give the ball up at times when you maybe want to shoot it. You have to stick your nose in and rebound. It's a tremendous record and it's a great honor. I wouldn't trade her for any point guard in the country. She has done so many good things. I told them in the huddle that the record doesn't mean anything if you lose.

You are 12-1 now. How do you feel about where the team is at right now?
BF: I feel fantastic. I guess it's coach speak to say we need to get better, and yeah we do. 12-1 isn't too damn bad. The kids have done everything we have asked of them. They get along great. They listen and they want to be good. They want to wear the uniform. We won all of our in-state games. We are undefeated at home. There are not a lot of things that you can write down that are negative. There is always something, and that's what coaching is all about. This is great, but everyone will write an article on Monday that says it doesn't mean anything. We are 0-0. That's what everyone will talk about. They did everything with one exception. 12 out of 13 is not too damn bad. I wish I could do things right 12 out of 13 times. I think sometimes we get so caught up in what's next, and sometimes to need a breath and say that's pretty damn good.

How much will it help your post players after going up against good shot blockers in tonight's game?
BF: Well you hope it helps them. Jennifer Hall was one of the most highly recruited players in the country out of high school. The two big kids are long and athletic. We are going to see a lot of that. They are not that far away from playing Big 12 basketball. When they are long and athletic and can block shots, you have to make some adjustments. We are going to see a lot of that in the Big 12. I think there are some teams in the Big 12 that don't have as good of post players as those kids. All three of them were very different.

What needs to be improved going in to Big 12 play?
BF: Obviously we have got to finish shots around the basket. We can't give points away. We have got to do a better job of consistently making free throws. I still think we have got to a better defensive rebounding team at the level that we need to play. The challenge now is for our inexperienced players to develop some consistency to play Big 12 basketball. They will handle it fine. Overall, our defense has been solid and our numbers have been good. Everything has to ratchet up another level starting on Wednesday, and everyone knows it.

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