AMES, Iowa — Hallie Christofferson entered as the nation’s eighth-leading scorer at 25 points per game.
The 6-foot-3 Iowa State senior and Exira graduate missed her first six field-goal attempts and first two free throws, going scoreless for nearly the first 11 minutes.
But No. 17 Iowa State proved that it’s much more than a one-woman team. Brynn Williamson scored a game-high 21 points with five 3-pointers, freshman Jadda Buckley added 19. Christofferson rebounded with 18 points and 14 boards in an 83-70 win over No. 21 Iowa Thursday before 11,543 at Hilton Coliseum.
“Basketball’s the ultimate team game,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “You have two choices when you struggle. You feel sorry for yourself, or you go out and get 14 rebounds, and you guard Bethany Doolittle for 39 minutes.
“I think it gives confidence to our other kids, that when our best player has on off night — 18 and 14, I wish I’d had those kind of off nights — it shows that we can still compete with good teams.”
Iowa State, also rated 11th in the coaches’ poll, improved to 9-0 while dropping Iowa to 10-2. In his 19th year at Iowa State, Fennelly improved his record against the Hawkeyes to 12-6, including 9-0 at home.
This season, the Cyclones already have beaten Northern Iowa and Drake.
“We beat a great team tonight, and we won the state championship, which is a great thing,’’ Fennelly said. “We’re very proud of that.’’
Iowa State built a 21-point cushion with 12:50 left in the game by grabbing 16 offensive rebounds to Iowa’s nine, hitting 10 3-pointers to Iowa’s five and getting to the free-throw line a whopping 49 times, making 37.
“They did a great job crashing the boards and getting second opportunities to shoot the ball,’’ Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “And we committed too many fouls.’’
Despite all that, Iowa nearly made a game of it. Down 21, Samantha Logic led the Hawkeyes on a 17-6 run to pull within 61-51 with 6:49 left. But Williamson hit 1 of 2 free throws, and then was fouled on a 3-point attempt. She sank all three, and Buckley’s free throw pushed it to 67-51 with 5:15 remaining.
Christofferson and Johnson each grabbed six offensive rebounds for the Cyclones.
“My teammates, they’re always there,” Christofferson said. “They’re always supporting me. They’re always making shots. Just knowing that they can do it just gives me a little bit more confidence.”
Logic led five Iowa players in double figures with 18 points. Fennelly said the Hawkeyes still will be a major threat in the Big Ten.
“I wish everyone in the Big Ten good luck because that’s a team that’s going to be very, very tough to beat down the road,” he said.
The final minute had some fireworks.
With 53.6 seconds left, Fennelly cleared his bench, inserting IKM-Manning grad Ashley Hagedorn and Carroll Kuemper grad Lexi Albrecht, among others. After at least one Cyclone turnover, and with Iowa still pressing with its starters, Fennelly re-inserted his starters with 39.6 seconds left.
“I really don’t care what Iowa does at the end of the game,’’ Fennelly said. “But if they’re going to press, we subbed everybody in. If she wants to leave her starters in, that’s her business. But I didn’t want her trying to embarrass my second team. And they didn’t press hardly at all until we subbed. I’m just not going to put those kids out there. I’m just not. I don’t think it’s fair to them.”
Bluder said she didn’t perceive there to be a problem in the final minute. She said she was just coaching until the end.
“I guess I didn’t realize that that was an issue for him,’’ she said. “We’re trying to do the best until the buzzer ends, and you work on situations that are going to help you. This game was over. So what we’re trying to do is trying to get through those situations and learn.”
Said Fennelly: “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. That’s their choice, and that was my choice.”