AMES, Iowa - Western Illinois held the halftime lead, but Iowa State erupted in the second half to pull away for an 84-65 victory on Sunday (Nov. 11) at Hilton Coliseum. It was the season-opener for both teams.
Down by six early in the first half, Michelle Maher hit two free throws and then she and Rebecca Henricson hit consecutive 3-pointers to close the gap to 21-19. When Saule Kontautaite hit a 3-pointer at the 4:26 mark, that put Western ahead 28-27.
Henricson and Charnelle Reed later hit consecutive 3s, then it was Kontautaite's deep 3-pointer right before the buzzer which gave Western a 40-38 lead heading into the locker room.
During the decisive second half, Iowa State used the 3-pointer to regain the lead for good. ISU (just 3-of-14 from long range in the first half) gott a 3-pointer from Hallie Christofferson, but Michele Salvatori responded by hitting a jumper to regain the lead. The Cyclones started going inside, getting consecutive baskets from Anna Prins then one from Chelsea Poppens to go ahead by five.
Konautaite scored three straight, then Maher followed with a three-point play to make it a 51-48 deficit at 13:50. Reed finished off her own personal 7-0 run with a 3-pointer, as the Leathernecks got to 56-55. That's when the Cyclones started getting hot from long distance.
Christofferson drained a 3-pointer, but Western did respond when Kontautaite banked in a '3' for a 61-58 deficit. ISU pulled away on an 11-0, thanks in part to consecutive long distance shots from Kidd Blaskowsky, and Western got no closer.
Despite the loss, head coach JD Gravina liked what he saw from his squad in the opener.
"I'm encouraged about the way we competed. For the first time we played better defensively than offensively, that was encouraging. At the end of the game, Iowa State got hot," said Gravina. "Our fundamentals were good, and I thought we battled until the four minute mark. We also didn't fold when they hit a couple of shots. I really liked our attitude, we put it on the floor and didn't worry about the result."
Kontautaite scored a team-high 16 points while three others scored in double-figures. Henricson netted a career-high 10 to go with her five assists. Maher and Reed both tallied 10 points as well. Henricson, Ashley Luke and Jackie Rieger added three rebounds apiece.
Western shot 47 percent for the game, including 9-of-23 from long range, and held the edge over ISU's 45 percent field goal shooting.
Poppens finished with a double-double, 23 points/15 rebounds as the much-taller Cyclones finished with a 46-25 edge on the glass.
Christofferson added 15 points and Prins finished with 14 points and eight board.
The Leathernecks open their home schedule on Tuesday (Nov. 13), playing host to Clarke. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. inside Western Hall.