Shooting Woes Plague ISU in 64-39 Loss

Bill Fennelly wishes he had seen Fire and Rain Wedneday night. But the concert at Hilton Coliseum was the only place that was to be found, since his Cyclones lacked much fire and certainly weren't raining in the points at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

"I should have stayed at home and watched the James Taylor concert," said Fennelly after witnessing one of his team's worst offensive performances in years in a 64-39 loss to the Hawkeyes. "Iowa played very well and with a great deal of energy from start to finish. Unfortunately for us, that's two games in a row where we just couldn't find the basket. Two for 12 from the free throw line is a great example. The last time I saw that was my youngest son's fourth-grade game where nobody can make a free throw."

But this wasn't a lackluster elementary school exhibition, it came from a Cyclone team that had beaten Iowa six consecutive times and often had no trouble finding various sources of offense. It wasn't to be this time. ISU shot just 33 percent from the floor and connected on 3-of-18 from outside the 3-point arc. The point total tied for the lowest in Fennelly's eight seasons as head coach.

Even with the lackluster shooting night, Fennelly's squad had its chances early and trailed by five heading into the half. But during a decisive stretch to open the second half, the Cyclones missed eight consecutive shots over a span of 5:56 and faced a 40-25 deficit.

"We weren't getting very good ball movement and weren't penetrating and getting wide open threes and threes in transition," said point guard Lindsey Wilson, the team's lone source of offense with 15 points on 7-of-14 shooting. "That's something we've always been known for. All of the shots were rushed, people weren't ready to shoot them or shot them because they had to."

Defensively, the Cyclones played well enough to give themselves a shot. Iowa made just 12-of-31 field goals in the opening 20 minutes before heating up early in the second half.

"We didn't make a shot for six minutes," Fennelly said. "We had good looks at the baskets and missed some free throws. But they weren't scoring either. It was kind of back and forth for a while. We were still hanging around and then all of a sudden they make three in a row. It took us seven minutes to score. That's too much to make up on the road against most teams."

Iowa's Jennie Lillis played a huge role in Iowa's pulling away, scoring 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. She took advantage of the Cyclones' revolving door of Lisa Kriener and Brittany Wilkins, who battled foul trouble trying to stop her.

"I thought it was an amazing performance by Jennie Lillis," said Drake head coach Lisa Bluder, whose team gave her career win number 400. "It was ‘give me the ball, let me shoot it and it's going to go in.' She believed all the time. She was so confident out there. I'm so proud to have the opportunity to coach her, because she can make a coach look good."

Bluder's players might have made her look pretty good, but it was her defensive strategy that helped put a stranglehold on a usually potent Cyclone offense. The Hawkeyes used an in-your-face approach when dealing with a guard-dominated opponent.

"I thought we did a good job defensively," Bluder said. "April (Calhoun) did a good job defending Lindsey Wilson, their leading scorer. She got a little frustrated at times out there and April was a little more physical with her and did a good job defending her.

"We didn't want to give up too many open threes. We talked about that and feel like they live and die a little bit by the three. They had some open threes that they didn't put down, but that hasn't really happened much in the past. We really wanted to be a little more physical with them and more aggressive on defense."

That approach paid off, as only Wilson scored in double figures for the Cyclones. Mary Cofield, who finished with eight points on 3-of-10 shooting, was the only other player to score more than five.

In the midst of a three-game stretch against in-state rivals, ISU will attempt to get back on track Sunday against Northern Iowa.

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