AMES, Iowa — Iowa State is going to need its freshmen to play older than they are this season.
The Cyclones’ newcomers more than came through on Saturday night, keying a blowout that gave them their first win at Hilton Coliseum.
Freshman Lindell Wigginton scored a career-high 21 points and Iowa State cruised past Western Illinois 70-45 for its fourth consecutive win.
Fellow freshman Cameron Lard also notched a career-best with 14 points and rookie Terrence Lewis had 12 in 13 minutes — topping his career total for scoring entering play — as the Cyclones (4-2) outscored the Leathernecks 41-20 in the second half.
“I was glad to see those guys play well,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said of his freshman trio. “I think we can continue to grow and get better throughout the year. We’re not a perfect picture right now and we’re not going to be.”
Iowa State started very slowly, needing a 12-0 run to jump ahead just 29-25 at halftime. But the promising Lard came alive, scoring eight points in 101 seconds as the Cyclones pushed their lead to 47-34 early in the second half.
Lard added a dunk with 7:50 left that made it 56-37, allowing fans who watched their Cyclones get drubbed by 18 in their last home game by a similar opponent, Milwaukee, breathe a sigh of relief.
Nick Weiler-Babb had six points, seven rebounds and 10 assists for Iowa State.
“We just played with more energy…we were just making more hustle plays in the second half,” Weiler-Babb said.
Dalan Ancrum had 14 points for Western Illinois (4-1), which fell a win shy of its second 5-0 start in three years. The Leathernecks, a strong 3-point shooting team, were just 5 of 25 from beyond the arc.
THE BIG PICTURE
Iowa State: The Cyclones might have a chance to be competitive in Big 12 games if Lard can put it together night in and night out. After notching a double-double in his collegiate debut, Lard combined for just four points in his next two games. But Lard has a ton of raw talent, and Iowa State is in need of difference makers as it rebuilds in 2017-18. Lard added five rebounds in 16 minutes.
Western Illinois: The Leathernecks were the last team in the Summit League to lose a game — not bad for a team picked to finish last in that conference. Ancrum should be a problem for defenses in the Summit this winter.
LINDELL WAS SWELL
Wigginton, perhaps the biggest recruit of the internet era for the Cyclones, added six assists, five rebounds and just one turnover in 27 minutes. He also hit four 3s, a promising development for a point guard playing largely off the ball now that Weiler-Babb is the primary ball handler. “My coaches stayed confident in me. My teammates stayed confident in me,” Wigginton said.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Sophomore guard Jakolby Long sat out with a concussion after being elbowed in practice on Thursday. Prohm said he hoped Long, who is in concussion protocol, will be ready to return early next week. …Donovan Jackson had nine points and Hans Brase had nine rebounds. …Iowa State had 11 offensive rebounds. …The Leathernecks starting backcourt, Ancrum and Kobe Webster, were just 9-of-28 shooting with six turnovers.
HE SAID IT
“He runs the floor really well every time we get it,” Wigginton said of Lard. “He was a defensive presence down there too. He’s a big body… (and) he’s an energetic guy.”
Iowa State will take all of next week off before resuming its schedule by hosting Northern Illinois on Dec. 4.
Western Illinois hosts IUPUI on Tuesday.