Carleton and Johnson lift Cyclones past Huskies

AMES — The Iowa State women’s basketball team scored the last five points of the first half to take the lead for good, but it was anything but uncontested.

The Cyclones built up a 16-point lead during the third quarter only to see Northern Illinois cut the deficit to three, but free throws down the stretch sealed Iowa State’s 97-89 triumph on Sunday afternoon at Hilton Coliseum.

Iowa State was forced to lean on its “big three” much more heavily than head coach Bill Fennelly would prefer, as Seanna Johnson, Bridget Carlton and Jadda Buckley combined to score 79 of the team’s 97 points. Yet that seemed to be the only way the Cyclones (7-2) could capture this win heading into finals week.

Johnson finished with a career-high 33 points, Carlton added a career-best 31, and Buckley added 15 as Iowa State rounded out a stretch of four games in eight days with a hard-fought victory. The Cyclones shot 11-for-12 from the free-throw line inside the final 3 minutes, 19 seconds, with Johnson going 6-for-6 in that span to help her team preserve the win.

“It was a tough week for us — physically and emotionally — to play four games in eight days, to have the rivalry game [against Iowa] and [overtime loss to sixth-ranked] Mississippi State and all that kind of stuff knowing that tomorrow morning they’ve got to get up and do finals,” said Fennelly. “I’m pleased with the result, I’m pleased with the way they approached it.”

The score was tied five times and the lead changed hands 10 times, all of which happened in the first half. Heather Bowe’s jumper broke a 43-all tie with 1:18 remaining in the second quarter to give Iowa State the lead for the remainder, and a 7-0 run late in the third upped the Cyclones’ lead to 68-52.

Little by little, Northern Illinois (5-3) cut into that deficit. An 8-2 run to open the fourth quarter got the margin back into single digits, and a 7-0 surge midway through the period made it a five-point game, 84-79.

The Huskies started fouling to help fuel their comeback, but Iowa State was too sharp from the free-throw line. ISU made 10 freebies in a row to regain a seven-point edge, 96-89, with 19 seconds still showing on the Hilton Coliseum scoreboard.

Northern Illinois missed four 3-point attempts in the last 1:25, managing only four free throws down the stretch as its comeback attempt came up short.

“I can’t fault our effort tonight,” said Huskies head coach Lisa Carlsen. “There was a time in the third quarter where we folded. Iowa State was having their way but I have to credit our kids for the battle and the fight they had, being able to compete against a team with more size than we had.”

Fennelly, meanwhile, was hoping for a little more out of his post players on this day.

“I think basically we had three players beat their team,” he said, “if you look at the numbers. Obviously Bridget and Seanna were monsters. It’s great that they did it, but certainly it raises a level of concern when you’re not getting it from other spots.

“I’m very concerned because the more you get into the bulk of the season, teams get better — no disrespect to Northern Illinois at all, I thought they had a great plan — teams get bigger and stronger. We’ve got to get something around the basket. We’ve got to get some post points.”

Meredith Burkhall and Bowe both tallied four points for the Cyclones, while 5-foot-9 guard TeeTee Starks led ISU with 11 rebounds to go with six points. Emily Durr, despite going 0-for-6 from the field, led with nine assists and had no turnovers.

Iowa State’s big trio on this day combined to shoot 29-for-55 (52.7 percent) from the field and 15-of-16 from the free-throw line. Johnson and Carlton became the first teammates in school history to both score at least 31 points in the same game, with Johnson’s 33 the most scored by a Cyclone since Alison Lacey dropped 35 on Michigan on Nov. 23, 2007. Buckley totaled 15 points in spite of an 0-for-5 effort from 3-point range, and she added five assists.

“We knew those would be the three, but not this level,” Fennelly said. “It’s a little bit extreme. “We’ve got to figure out ways to get other people involved and put them in better positions to score.”

Northern Illinois had five double-digit scorers for the fifth time this season, led on this day by Cassidy Glenn’s 18 points. Courtney Woods finished with 17, Mikayla Voigt and Ally Lehman had 16 apiece and Janae Poisson pitched 12 points off the bench.

Lehman also had a game-high 15 rebounds and became the Huskies’ 28th player to reach the 1,000-point plateau.

Iowa State now has a week off for finals before resuming play next Sunday at home against Delaware State. The 2 p.m. contest will be televised by

Iowa St. 97, Northern Illinois 89

N. ILLINOIS (5-3) — Glenn 6-16 5-5 18, Woods 7-11 2-2 17, Lehman 7-15 0-0 16, Voigt 5-11 5-5 16, Poisson 4-9 2-2 12, Smith 2-10 2-2 6, Sladek 2-6 0-2 4, Woollacott 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS 33-78 16-18 89.

IOWA ST. (7-2) – Johnson 12-22 6-6 33, Carleton 11-20 6-7 31, Buckley 6-13 3-3 15, Starks 2-5 2-2 6, Bowe 2-7 0-0 4, Burkhall 2-6 0-0 4, Durr 0-6 4-5 4, Camber 0-0 0-0 0, Ricketts 0-0 0-0 0, Washington 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS 35-79 21-23 97.

N. Illinois    24    19    17    29    —    89

Iowa St.    25    20    27    25    —    97

3-Point Goals–NIU 7-17 (Lehman 2-4, Poisson 2-6, Glenn 1-1, Voigt 1-3, Woods 1-2, Smith 0-1), ISU 6-27 (Carleton 3-9, Johnson 3-6, Bowe 0-2, Buckley 0-5, Durr 0-5). Assists–NIU 14 (Lehman 4), ISU 19 (Durr 9). Fouled Out–Durr. Rebounds–NIU 46 (Lehman 15), ISU 44 (Starks 11). Total Fouls–NIU 19, ISU 17. A–9,825.