AMES - The last test before finals week received a passing grade, but the Iowa State women's basketball team knows it has plenty of homework left to do.
The No. 22-ranked Cyclones welcomed the return of senior post Chelsea Poppens to the court, and her presence made for an easy 60-43 victory over Fairfield Sunday afternoon at Hilton Coliseum.
Poppens, who sat out three games because of a concussion, came off the bench to tally 12 points and a game-high nine rebounds while helping Iowa State (6-1) get back on track after Thursday's loss in Iowa City.
Iowa State’s Chelsea Poppens (33) takes a shot between Fairfield’s Brittany MacFarlane and Katie Cizynksi (44) during the first half of an NCAA women’s basketball game Sunday at Hilton Coliseum in Ames. The No. 22-ranked Cyclones won 60-43.
Hallie Christofferson scored a game-high 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting, Brynn Williamson knocked down four 3-pointers for 12 points, and Nikki Moody handed out 10 assists as the Cyclones led wire-to-wire against the Stags (5-3).
"That was a good test for our kids after what happened on Thursday," said ISU head coach Bill Fennelly. "Obviously (this was) a game we needed to win, should win in most peoples' minds, and gives us some momentum moving into final exam week.
"The obvious thing is it's great to have Pop(pens) back playing. The energy she brings to our team helps a lot. I'm a little concerned about our lack of depth, we're not getting a whole lot off our bench and we've got to shore that up somehow."
Fennelly issued bench play and getting to the free-throw line as the take-home assignments for his squad over the coming week. Aside from Poppens, only Emiah Bingley saw more than 4 minutes off the bench, and the team is a combined 8-for-8 at the charity stripe in their past two outings.
Poppens' 12 points were all that came from outside the starting lineup.
"Mentally I was ready to be out there," said Poppens, an Aplington-Parkersburg graduate. "There were a few times I was a little bit winded, but that's a given since I only practiced the last two days. I was a little rough but I made it work."
Poppens pulled down six offensive rebounds, had two steals and even attempted to draw a charge despite her return from a concussion.
"I think she was pretty juiced up to play," Fennelly said. "She's like a bronco when the gate opens - there she goes. That's the way she plays, it was almost crazy today.
"It's a whole different world when she's around."
The Cyclones led by as many as 17 points in the first half and went into the break with a 12-point advantage.
After Fairfield's Katelyn Linney opened the second half with a 3-pointer, Iowa State answered with an 11-1 run to regain a 19-point lead.
ISU opened the game with a 20-7 edge sparked by Christofferson's 11 points.
"We talked about that tonight, coming out in the Iowa game as sluggish as we did, tonight we had to come out focused and get out to a good start because we knew they were a good team," Christofferson said.
Katie Cizynski led the Stags with 13 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots.
The Cyclones do not return to the hardwood until Dec. 17, when they travel to Cedar Falls to face Northern Iowa at 7 p.m. inside the McLeod Center. That game will be broadcast by the Panther Sports Network including KWWL 7.3, CFU 15, WOI 5.2, as well as online at ESPN3.com.