The competition was at a whole new level Wednesday night at Hilton Coliseum as conference play began for the Iowa State women. Although Kansas was 5-7 coming in to the game, the Jayhawks ran a perfect game plan to shut down the Cyclone offense, but Iowa State (13-1, 1-0) used a late rally to pull off the win 61-50. Nicky Wieben led the charge in the second half scoring 14 of Iowa State's first 18 points. She finished the game with 17 and made nine of her 11 free throws attempts. Lyndsey Medders also scored 17 points, and Toccara Ross finished one rebound shy of a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing nine rebounds. The media had a chance to talk with Medders and Wieben after the game.
Were you ready for that type of a physical game?
Lyndsey Medders: The way we practice the last couple of days, Coach Harris who is in charge of our scout team told them to foul as much as they wanted to and get up into us. There is only so much preparation you can do for the actual physicality of this league, and I think it took us a little while obviously. We turned the ball over 19 times. I think we had 12 by halftime. That is something that is definitely going to have to be corrected. They are a great physical defensive team, but they are not definitely the best. That's how teams are going to play us for the next 15 games. I think it is just continuing to prepare and expecting that kind of physical nature.
Did you get frustrated with not being able to run your offense more smoothly?
LM: A little bit. We take a lot of pride in our offense. Coach Fennelly told us our goal was to score over 60 points. He is a magician with numbers. To see 61 as our final number shows what we needed to do. He told us today in our shoot around that we were going to have to be able to make free throws. I think everyone was surprised with how much they foul. We were shooting one-and-one with about 10 and a half minutes left in the first half and with about nine minutes left in the second half. We weren't really surprised. It maybe threw us off a little bit because we are an offensive team and we enjoy both transition and half-court sets. You do whatever it takes to win and that's what we did tonight.
Has anyone taken you out of your offense like Kansas did?
LM: Pepperdine, our only loss. It's very hard to get your offense flowing when myself as a point guard gets limited touches or gets denied as much as I did. Everyone did a good job. The way Nicky Wieben played was phenomenal. She carried us for that three or four minute stretch in the second half. Those are the kinds of things that we are going to need to do when we are not getting our offensive looks.
When they took the lead in the second half you had to be thinking "not again."
LM: Not again, but this is a team that was down 11 points start at Iowa. There is no sense of fear, panic or frustration from anyone on this team, and I think that is going to be key whether we are playing at home or playing on the road. Just keeping that level of composure and not letting the other team know that you are panicked. We were down two points. It's not like it's a huge hole. The way we were able to guard at the end of the game gave us a chance to win. We made some free throws finally down the stretch.
Why were you so successful on defense late in the game?
LM: Your sense of urgency kind of picks up when you see that you are down two at home against Kansas the first game of the Big 12 season. That is something that we are going to have to do a lot better job at the beginning of the game. It's hard not falling asleep on ball screens and stuff like that. They are not a team that looks to come down and shoot right away. They wanted to keep it a slow tempo game, and they did a pretty good job of that. It was a matter of us getting more stops than them at the end.
Talk about your stretch of scoring in the second half.
Nicky Wieben: I think we came out of the half well aware that we had seven turnovers between the four posts, no assists, no offensive rebounds, and we realized that we had to pick it up. Our guards were struggling a little bit from the outside because of the pressure, and we knew that we had to step it up a lot. I think we came in to the second half really ready to play.
Did the physical nature get you motivated?
NW: It always sparks me a little bit. I did an up and under move one time, and then tried it again. I went in and just tried to keep playing hard.
How hard is it to get position down low with the physicality of the game?
NW: Especially on defense, a lot of times we get in trouble for just letting them throw the ball straight in and not getting our hand up. We really try and work on that. Of course it's going to get more aggressive as games go on and we realized that tonight. Hopefully we learned that tonight and we can move on.
How important was it to have a tough first conference game?
NW: It's always nice to come out and get our first win, especially at home, but we can always do better. It's not good enough. We still want to keep going forward, and hopefully we can get our first win on the road too.
Other game notes:
-With her two blocks tonight, Nicky Wieben moved up to fifth place on the ISU career blocks chart with 86.
-Wieben's 17 points are the most for her since scoring 18 vs. Saint Louis on Dec. 16.
-With the win tonight, ISU has started Big 12 play with a win on seven occasions.
-With five assists on the night, Lyndsey Medders improved her career record to 600.
-ISU held Kansas to 14 points in the first half, a season low for an opponent. Iowa State's 22 points was also a season low for the Cyclones in the first half.
-Iowa State's 61 points for the game is the second lowest offensive output of the season for the Cyclones. They scored just 46 points in their only loss of the season to Pepperdine.
-Lyndsey Medders' 17 points marks the ninth time this season she has finished in double figures.
-Iowa State 33 made free throws and 46 attempted free throws were season highs.
-Toccara Ross' seven for seven performance from the free throw line set career highs for attempts and makes.
-Kansas committed 34 fouls in Wednesday night's game to Iowa State's 11 team fouls.