AMES - The Iowa State women's basketball team had no trouble with Air Force in the first round of the Cyclone Challenge on Saturday.
Backed by a career-best 26 points and eight 3-pointers from freshman Nicole Blaskowsky, the Cyclones canned 13 triples, built a big halftime lead and cruised past Air Force, 83-35, at Hilton Coliseum.
Three other Cyclones - Anna Prins, Brynn Williamson and Hallie Christofferson - also scored in double-figures, and the squad tallied 26 points in the paint, 18 second-chance points and held a 57-29 advantage in rebounds.
The Cyclones improved to 8-1 on the season and are now 32-0 all-time under coach Bill Fennelly in home regular season tournament games. Air Force dropped to 1-10 after the loss.
Blaskowsky hit just 8-of-43 from 3-point range during the Cyclones' first eight games. She was 8-for-13 alone Saturday and finished with four rebounds. Iowa State made a season-high 12 triples in the game and ended up 12-of-35 from downtown. The Cyclones though made just 2-of-16 in the first half.
The Cyclones led 37-10 at halftime despite the poor outside shooting. They made nine of their first 10 shots - including 6-of-7 from long range - in the second half to leave no doubt.
Penn 52, Alabama State 37
Iowa State 83, Air Force 35
Air Force (1-10) vs. Penn (5-4), 1 p.m.
Iowa State (8-1) vs. Alabama State (2-8), 3:30 p.m.
Prins finished with 18 points and a season-high eight boards for Iowa State, which will play Alabama State in the championship game today. Williamson contributed 13 points and six boards, while Christofferson chipped in 12 points and seven boards.
All-Big 12 forward Chelsea Poppens scored just eight points on 3-of-6 shooting but added a game-high 11 rebounds. Nikki Moody did not score for the Cyclones but had eight assists in the win.
Madeleine Philpot led Air Force with 10 points off the bench. Alicia Leipprandt scored nine points.
The Cyclones' game against Alabama State will tip off today at 3:30 p.m. The third-place game pits Air Force against Penn, which lost to Alabama State, 52-37, on Saturday.