AMES, Iowa (AP) — It seemed like everyone in Iowa had been waiting all week for Friday, when the Cyclones and Hawkeyes resume their heated instate series.
The Iowa and Iowa State women got the rivalry stewing a night ahead of schedule.
Brynn Williamson scored a career-high 21 points and 17th-ranked Cyclones beat No. 21 Iowa 83-70 Thursday night for its best start in 12 years.
Freshman Jadda Buckley had 19 points and Hallie Christofferson scored 18 with 14 rebounds for the Cyclones, who are 9-0 for the first time since starting 12-0 in 2001-02.
But the game’s most interesting moment came with 39.6 seconds left.
Although Iowa was down 16, Hawkeyes coach Lisa Bluder kept pressing — and Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly responded by re-inserting his starting five.
Fennelly clearly wasn’t pleased by Iowa’s aggressive approach against his bench players.
“If she wants to leave her starters in, that’s her business. But I didn’t want (Bluder) trying to embarrass my second team,” Fennelly said. “My job is to protect our players, and if you’re going to press my second team, then I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. So, that’s their choice and that was my choice.”
According to Bluder, Iowa was simply using those final moments as a teaching tool.
“He can do what he wants,” Bluder said of Fennelly. “We’re just trying to do the best until the buzzer ends, and you work on situations that are going to help you. Now, that game was over. So what we’re trying to do is to try to get through those situations and learn so that when we play down the road,
we can get better in those situations. But any coach has the opportunity to do anything they want until the buzzer sounds.”
But nothing Iowa tried could hold back the Cyclones, who won their ninth straight at home under against the Hawkeyes under Fennelly.
Iowa came in with a six-game winning streak and the Big Ten’s top offense. But the Hawkeyes had just 20 free-throw tries compared to 49 for Iowa State — including 35 in the second half.
Samantha Logic scored 18 for Iowa, which held Iowa State to 32 percent shooting but couldn’t overcome the disparity at the free throw line.
“Iowa State did a great job of attacking the basket, and we just did not do a good job of relying on our help-side defense and taking charges,” Bluder said.
Iowa did do a decent job of containing Christofferson though.
It was the rest of the Cyclones who proved to be too much to handle.
Christofferson had established herself as one of the best players in the country with 25 points, 7.6 rebounds and just four missed free throws in 58 tries through eight games. But the Hawkeyes stymied Christofferson early, forcing the Iowa State star into six straight misses.
Iowa couldn’t take advantage of Christofferson’s struggles.
The Hawkeyes turned it over 10 times in the opening 12 minutes, and Williamson drained four early 3s to help the Cyclones jump out to a 24-13 lead. Williamson then followed a Kidd Blaskowsky 3 with her fifth in 16 minutes to make it 30-15 Iowa State.
Though the Hawkeyes sneaked back within 61-51, the Cyclones hit seven consecutive free throws to take a 68-53 lead with 4:15 left.
Seanna Johnson had 16 rebounds and Buckley hit 14 free throws in notching a career high in points.
The win helped Iowa State remain one of two schools, along with Connecticut, to have unbeaten men’s and women’s teams.
Coach Fred Hoiberg and the Cyclones will shoot for a sweep of the Hawkeyes on Friday night in Ames.
“It’s so big for us, and it leaves a good spirit in our minds going into Christmas,” Christofferson said.