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No. 24 ISU gears up for first in-state challenge

November 27, 2012
By TIMES-REPUBLICAN STAFF ( , Times-Republican

AMES - Iowa State's women's basketball team moved to 4-0 in its most recent game without the services of leading scorer Chelsea Poppens.

If the now-nationally ranked Cyclone women want to get to 5-0, they likely will have to again win without Poppens.

"Pop suffered a concussion against Loyola Marymount and is being evaluated daily," Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. "We are hoping for the best, but I would say she is very doubtful for (Tuesday)."

Tonight, the No. 24 Cyclones step onto the floor at Hilton Coliseum to play their first in-state game of the season as they host Drake at 7 p.m.

Iowa State has won 67 straight regular season nonconference games at Hilton Coliseum dating back to the 2003-04 season. The last loss came against Washington on Dec. 21, 2003.

"If you can't get excited about being 4-0 then something's wrong," Fennelly said. "Hopefully we'll be ready to play (Tuesday."

Fact Box

Drake at Iowa State

Tonight, 7 p.m.

At Hilton Coliseum, Ames

The Cyclones got 18 points from Halley Christofferson in the championship game against Illinois in the Junkanoo Jam at the Bahamas. Nikki Moody and Brynn Williamson also picked up the slack in Poppens' absence as Moody scored 16 and Williamson 13 in the 68-50 win.

"I was ecstatic about Saturday," Fennelly said. "We found a way to win without our best player. It's not always pretty, but we are certainly competing."

Drake comes into the game at 1-3 and is coming off back-to-back losses in the Aggie Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic, losing to California-Irvine and George Mason.

And playing against Drake is never fun for Fennelly. As a matter of fact, he said Monday that he doesn't really like playing the Bulldogs or UNI Panthers every season.

"Let's be honest, if we lose to Drake or UNI we get killed," Fennelly said. "Those games are hard, but they are good for the program and it brings heightened media, which also is good. It isn't fun, but there is a sense of pride. We want to be state champs."

The Bulldogs were predicted toward the bottom of the Missouri Valley Conference when the season started and will come into tonight's game with a sophomore leading the way offensively.

Kyndal Clark, who was a member of the 2012 MVC all-freshman team last year, is averaging 17.5 points, 5 rebounds and 2.8 assists through the first four games for the Bulldogs.

Junior Morgan Reid, who is the cousin of ISU's Williamson, is averaging 11.3 points and 10.3 rebounds so far this year. Carly Grenfell also is averaging in double figures this season at 10.5 points per game.

"They run the ball up the floor pretty quickly, so we are going to have to get back and get to their shooters as best we can," ISU's Anna Prins said. "Drake is a good team. This game will be a challenge for us."

Prins is one of the players Fennelly is looking at to step up both statistically and as a leader for the Cyclones in place of the injured Poppens. That hasn't always come easy for Prins, who has scored in double-figures in three of the first four games.

"It doesn't come easy for me, but it is something I know I need to do," Prins said. "I have to step up and I need to make more plays for this team."

Defense has triggered the Cyclones in their first four games. Iowa State is leading the Big 12 in points allowed per game and has held their last three opponents to an average of 30 points below their season averages.

"I think it is unfair to judge us this early in the season and because we are not fully healthy, but I am pleased with how we have played so far," Fennelly said.

Former Iowa State standout Kelsey Bolte is the Coordinator of Basketball Operations for Drake. Fennelly said it's a good fit for his former player but doesn't like playing against former players or former coaches.

"I am sure she'll be excited to be playing against us, but I don't like playing against former players," Fennelly said. "It is nice to win the games, but you always know someone who loses. It is a good situation for Kelsey though. I think she will make a great coach someday."

After Drake tonight, the Cyclone women travel to Iowa on Dec. 6 and then host Fairfield on Dec. 9 before heading back on the road for a meeting with Northern Iowa on Dec. 17.

The Bulldogs will host Chicago State on Dec. 2 and then travel to North Dakota for games against North Dakota State and North Dakota on Dec. 6 and Dec. 8, respectively. Drake will play host to Iowa on Dec. 16.



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