Women’s basketball at Iowa State: What you need to know

Sophomore guard Jordan Meulemans rises for a layup against Franklin College on Oct. 30. Photo by Makenna Frias.

SAWYER GOLDWEIN | SPORTS REPORTER | sgoldwein@butler.edu

The women’s basketball team tips off their regular season on Nov. 6 and will immediately be put to the test. The Bulldogs will face off against the Iowa State Cyclones. Butler is ready to go after a convincing 108-41 win in their lone exhibition game against Division III Franklin College.

Here’s what you need to know before Butler squares off with Iowa State.

Who: Butler at Iowa State

When: Nov. 6, Noon

Where: Hilton Coliseum 

How to watch: ESPN+

Starting out strong 

The Dawgs had no problem handling the Grizzlies of Franklin College in their exhibition game, jumping out to an early lead. Of course, a strong performance is to be expected when a Division I team in a power conference matches up with a Division III team, but it was a promising display nonetheless. Butler’s depth was a strong point, with almost the entire team logging minutes in the game, including all six newcomers. 

One standout was senior guard Caroline Strande, who shot 90% from the field, putting up 22 points. Strande was also one of the many Bulldogs who was active on the defensive end. She and senior guard Kendall Wingler logged four steals apiece, while graduate wing Rachel Kent led the team with six

Butler’s defense forced 31 turnovers overall. That allowed them to get out in transition throughout the game, leading to 49 points off of Grizzly turnovers. The Dawgs shot 56.5% from the field and 33.3% from long range. They will want to improve upon their three-point efficiency, but should not have much trouble doing so once they can knock the early-season rust off.

New faces 

Head coach Austin Parkinson retooled his roster heading into the 2023-24 campaign, bringing in three impact transfers, as well as a class of three first-years, all of whom are in-state products. The highest touted of the recruits is guard Karsyn Norman, who is expected to make an instant impact in the backcourt. Norman is a quick point guard who can push the ball up the floor offensively and make life difficult for opposing guards on the other end of the floor. The Bedford, IndIana native also has strong three-point ability. Norman scored eight points against Franklin.

Riley Makalusky, a wing from Fishers, Indiana, played on the same AAU team as Norman. Makalusky is a rangy wing who can guard multiple positions. She is also an offensive threat, with the ability to score both from long range and off the dribble. Makalusky scored four points and grabbed three rebounds against the Grizzlies.

Rounding out the class is Cristen Carter, a forward from Indianapolis. Carter is a highly skilled rebounder who has the ability to match up with bigger players. She can run the floor, but also has strong post skills with her back to the basket. Carter shined in the exhibition, pouring in 16 points and pulling down four rebounds.

Scouting the Cyclones 

Iowa State secured a 22-10 record and a fifth seed in the NCAA Tournament last season. Despite a major roster overhaul — including losing star wing Ashley Joens to the WNBA draft — they still received top 25 votes in the preseason AP Poll.

However, the waters are getting murky for the Cyclones. Just hours before their season began with an exhibition game against Truman State, the team announced that senior guard Emily Ryan will be out indefinitely as she recovers from a “health related issue”. Ryan has started 70 straight games for Iowa State, and earned All-Big 12 honors in each of the past two years. She was set to be one of just five returning players to this year’s team. 

Without Ryan, the Cyclones find themselves with a major lack of continuity and experience. 

They were confronted with that weakness in their exhibition game, when they rolled out a starting lineup that included three first-year players. Alongside them was junior center Isnelle Natabou and senior guard Hannah Belanger. Both Natabou (Sacramento State) and Belanger (Truman State) arrived in Ames this offseason via the transfer portal, meaning none of Iowa State’s five current starters have ever donned the cardinal and gold in a real game. 

That inexperience loomed large against Truman State, a Division II school. Iowa State won by just 20 points, with a final score of 88-68. By comparison, last year’s Cyclones team opened their season with a 104-47 win over Winona State, who also competes in Division II. 

The Cyclones still are no pushovers, though. They boast the No. 13 ranked recruiting class in the country, and have plenty of impact transfers. 

With Ryan out, expect Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly to hand the reins of his team over to his bigs, including the 6’5” Natabou and 6’4” redshirt junior Izzi Zingaro. c

Butler will have to win the battle in the paint if they want to pick up an early season road win. 


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