COLUMBIA — Alison Lacey rebounds the ball under her own basket and heads up the court. Just one dribble after crossing half-court, she whips a crisp one-handed bounce pass to Chelsea Poppens, who gently lays in the ball off the backboard. Just minutes later while in full sprint, Lacey lofts a pass over the Missouri defense into the hands of Poppens for another layup.
“We’ve kind of become spoiled on the way she plays,” Iowa State women's basketball coach Bill Fennelly said. “It’s fun to watch.”
It was a typical performance for the nation’s leader in assist-to-turnover ratio. Lacey, a 6-foot senior point guard, had 18 points and seven assists in No. 22 Iowa State's 65-39 victory at Mizzou Arena. In the first half, Lacey recorded five assists, while Missouri, as a team, had three.
“She’s an outstanding player,” Missouri coach Cindy Stein said. “Since her freshman year, I wish she’d graduate. The way she can control the ballgame. The way she can handle the ball. She can penetrate. She can shoot the three. Great passer. Just does it all. When the ball’s in her hands, a lot of good things happen.”
Lacey has traveled a long road to get where she is now.
Lacey is a native of Canberra, Australia, the nation’s capital city in the southeastern corner of the country. While in Australia, Lacey was named the 2003 Australian Capital Territory Junior Female Player of the Year by Basketball Australia.
Lacey left her home when she was 17 years old to participate in a foreign exchange program at Ballard High School in Huxley, Iowa. During her one year there, she earned all-state first-team honors and was named the Mid-Iowa Player of the Year. A scholarship offer to play at Iowa State kept her away from her home.
“It’s been a good experience,” Lacey said. “It’s one of the best decisions of my life. Iowa State’s been a perfect fit for me.”
Lacey has continued to be successful with the Cyclones. She leads the team with 17.6 points and 6.5 assists per game and is third on the team with 5.4 rebounds a game. Earlier in the season, she recorded the school’s second ever triple-double in a win over rival Iowa. Lacey is on the verge of becoming the only player in the Iowa State program to reach 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists in a career. She already has eclipsed the mark in points and rebounds and after Saturday’s game, Lacey only needs 15 assists to reach the milestone.
“In my mind, she’s the best player in our league,” Fennelly said. “Everything that happens with our team goes through No. 4.”
When the season draws to an end, Lacey will say her goodbyes, but she says she will never forget the memories she created at Iowa State.
“A lot of life lessons,” Lacey said. “Coach Fennelly is really big on teaching not only about basketball but about life. That’s something I’ve come away with. Friendships too. I have a place to stay in America. I will always have friends for a lifetime. It’s been better than I ever thought.”