Cyclone women’s hoops bits

Iowa State will play a home-and-home series with Michigan starting next season as part of the newly-created Big 12/Big Ten Challenge announced Wednesday.

ISU will host the 2010 game and go to Ann Arbor, Mich., in 2011. Games will be played on either Dec. 4-5.

Wisconsin will play Challenge games against Kansas and Oklahoma State during the initial two-year agreement to make up for the difference in the number of teams in each league.  

This will be a nice boost for the Cyclones’ strength of schedule. They play the state schools Iowa, Drake and Northern Iowa every year, and usually one or two more NCAA Tournament-worthy teams.

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Three players signed letters of intent with ISU on Wednesday, including the state’s most sought-after player, Exira forward Hallie Christofferson.

Christofferson was apparently down to Iowa State and Iowa. She picked Coach Bill Fennelly’s team, which is loading up on young talent. Christofferson earned all-state honors in each of her first three years and has career averages of 21.4 points and 12.7 rebounds.

Also signing Wednesday was Kelsey Harris, a sharpshooting 5-10 guard from Brea, Calif., and Midland (Texas) College point guard Lauren Mansfield.

The 5-7 Mansfield helped lead Midland to a 30-2 record last season and will fill an immediate void at point guard when Alison Lacey is out of eligibility. Coincidentally, like Lacey, Mansfield hails from Australia.  

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Fennelly sent out a message Wednesday night on his Twitter account saying just seven players were available for practice. Has the flu bug hit his team? Perhaps.

The Cyclones open the regular season at 1 p.m. Sunday against Florida Atlantic. We’ll see how many suit up then.

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