Has there ever been a more stressful two-night stretch at Hilton Coliseum?
I can safely say there hasn’t been since I’ve been in Ames. Two nights, two great games, four solid teams and one bitter rivalry. That was the formula for one of Hilton Coliseum’s greatest weekends in recent memory.
The Iowa State men kicked it off by battling back from a 20-point deficit to beat the hated Iowa Hawkeyes on a last second shot by Monté Morris Thursday night. The Iowa State women made a comeback of their own when they erased an 11-point deficit to beat the No. 23 Hawkeyes 69-66.
These nights and this rivalry have been a ton of fun and with that, here are my five takeaways from the 2015 Cy-Hawk rivalry hardcourt editions.
1. The feeling when the whole tide shifts
It’s hard to really explain the feeling that I’m referring to. It’s one of those things where you don’t really know what you’re feeling, but you absolutely know that something crazy is about to happen.
I got that feeling during both of these games. Most likely, anyone that has ever been in Hilton Coliseum during one of the “Magic” games has gotten that feeling.
It’s really unlike anything else. The crowd grows louder and louder with each Iowa State basket. The sound nearly ruptures your ear drums with each defensive stop. I couldn’t even imagine shooting a free throw as an opposing player.
At times during Friday’s game I would turn to talk to my good friend Trey Alessio of the Iowa State Daily and when I talked I couldn’t hear what I was saying. He could’t hear what I was saying.
That’s how loud Hilton Coliseum was for a women’s basketball game.
Iowa’s Ally Disterhoft told me after the game that they won’t ever use the atmosphere as an excuse for why they lost the game, and she’s right. It isn’t ever going to be the direct reason for a loss.
But anyone that tries to tell me the crowd didn’t play a factor Thursday or Friday night is flat-out lying.
2. The women’s freshman class
The hype surrounding these three girls before the season started couldn’t have been louder. It’s safe to say they are living up to it.
Bridget Carleton was expected to be the Canadian that took Iowa State hoops to new heights. Meredith Burkhall was the lovable kid from Des Moines with a mean streak in the post. TeeTee Starks was the ball handler and lock down defender.
Friday night they all played their roles to perfection.
Burkhall scored 13 points (on 5-of-7 shooting) and grabbed eight rebounds. Carleton came off the bench to score 11 points and grab four rebounds after she’d sat out the last two weeks with a concussion. Starks didn’t find her way into the scoring column but her presence was felt in her 14 minutes.
Iowa State doesn’t win that game last night without these three girls. They’re just eight games, or less in Carleton’s case, into their college careers.
3. Jameel McKay and Seanna Johnson
I would safe it’s safe to officially deem this Iowa State basketball’s power couple. Not just because of their notoriety off the court, but because of the power they bring on it. Oh, by the way, in case you’ve never been on Twitter in your life, the pair is dating.
Both players were electric in the second halves of the games against Iowa. McKay scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to pick up his fourth double-double of the season. Johnson scored 22 points, 11 in the fourth quarter, and grabbed 10 rebounds for her seventh double-double of the season, and 20th of her career.
They both stepped up at the exact moments when their teams needed them. They were both all over the floor defensively. They crashed the glass with tenacity, both on the offensive and defensive ends.
Then when they got their opportunities to score, they did just that.
These two players are so much fun to watch when they are on their games. That’s why they’re the power couple of Iowa State hoops.
4. Jarrod Uthoff and Ally Disterhoft
Talk about two players that came into Hilton Coliseum and didn’t mind playing the role of the villain.
They were both cold-blooded on in their respective games with Uthoff scoring 32 points, 30 in the first half, and Disterhoft scoring 26 points, with 18 coming in the second half.
Both these players put on performances that would’ve gone down in the history of this rivalry had they finished out the wins.
Hilton Coliseum doesn’t back down from a villain.
5. We’re all going to remember these two nights for a long time
That’s my last takeaway and it’s probably one that didn’t need to be written. These were two nights Iowa State fans won’t be soon to forget.
Entering Thursday my top five games at Hilton Coliseum, both men and women, would have gone something like this:
- Oklahoma State men in 2014 when Naz Long sent the game to overtime with his long 3-pointer
- Men’s win over Iowa in 2013
- Women’s win over No. 3 Texas in 2015
- Women’s win over No. 3 Baylor in 2015
- Men’s win over Oklahoma in 2015
I haven’t been around long, but I’ve only missed three games at Hilton Coliseum in this last three seasons. Thursday and Friday night’s games have found their way into my top five.
The last two nights have been fun. The last two nights have been stressful, even for a journalist. The last two nights have been legendary.
Somebody find me a better rivalry than this.
I can wait.