Iowa State women's basketball team (3-0) is in Des Moines to take on Drake (2-2) at 2 p.m Sunday in the Knapp Center, having won its last three against the Bulldogs.
The Cyclones are coming off a road win at Cincinnati while Drake has wins over Creighton and South Dakota, the latter coming in overtime.
The Bulldogs are led by 5-foot-5 junior guard Kyndal Clark, who is averaging 16.5 points per game, including a game-high 26 against South Dakota. Although Drake will want to run the motion offense, Clark has taken over 23 percent of the teams shots so far this season. Besides shooting the ball, she will also look to drive to the hoop and draw contact as she’s been to the free throw line 33 times this season (shooting .636), more than double anyone else on the team.
“The thing we notice with Drake right off the back is that they don’t have a lot of size but they are very interchangeable and have a lot of kids that can score it,” Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said after speaking with the media Friday afternoon. “They run a unique system with a lot of motion and switch every screen, which we don’t see a lot. They have the capability of [having] a lot of different players scoring. Obviously Clark is the one that has jumped off the page as far as her numbers, but historically when we play Drake there has always been someone that hasn’t been a great scorer that [finds a way to] score against us. It’s a big game. These in state games on the road are always hard. The Knapp Center is a great place to play, and I’m sure both teams will be ready to go.”
Guarding Iowa State’s Hallie Christofferson will be split between Drakes two forwards — junior Liza Heap and senior Morgan Reid. Both are only 6-foot and will yield three inches to the unanimous preseason All-Big 12 First team selection Christofferson, who is averaging a team high 27.3 points and 10 rebounds. The Bulldogs' Morgan is averaging 8.0 points and 7.3 rebounds and is aggressive on defense with a team-high five blocks and nine steals.
“Our team is learning how to take care of the ball better and adapting to the rules,” Fennelly said. “But we’ve had a lot of bad memories there. I have always said since I’ve been at Iowa State, that the in state games are the hardest ones on the schedule, [and those games] on the road are even harder. It’s a different mindset by everyone. /p>
“I think we learn a lot more Sunday. How will be handle adversity? How do we handle being in an uncomfortable situation? This will be like a Big 12 road game in the sense of the mood and the energy. We’ve got two good days of practice ahead of us to get ready.”
Only 609 fans were in attendance to watch Iowa State defeat Cincinnati for their first road game last night. Fennelly said his staff counted just over 100 at the time of the opening tip. The Knapp Center holds 7,152 and so it will be a different road environment for the Cyclones.
Iowa State and Drake have played 52 times, with each team winning 26.
Drake holds the series lead, winning 14 of the 24 meetings at games held in the Knapp Center.
Iowa State will have a decisive height advantage Sunday. Drake's two tallest players to play quality minutes are both 6-foot. ISU's Hallie Christofferson and sophomore forward Madison Baier are 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-4, respectively.
Drake has been out-rebounded this season (giving up an average of 4.7 rebounds per game), while Iowa State is averaging four better than their opponent this year.
Bill Fennelly’s 500th career victory was against Drake during the 2010-11 season.
Bill Fennelly will be going for his 400th win as the Cyclones' coach.