AMES — Iowa State (11-7, 3-4 Big 12) and No. 4 Baylor (19-1, 6-1 Big 12) were tied at 16 after a Jadda Buckley bucket to start the second quarter Saturday afternoon at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones had shot close to 50 percent from the field despite facing a smothering Baylor defense.
That’s when the Bears turned the switch. That switch that all elite teams have.
Baylor went on a 25-9 run that spanned the second quarter and the start of the third to take control of the game and handed Iowa State a 77-61 loss in front of 11,587 fans.
“That’s a great team,” said Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly. “There’s no way around it. There’s a lot of things they can do that a lot of people can’t. I thought out kids tried but sometimes you compete and the other guy’s better. They were better in basically every phase of the game.”
The numbers don’t look all that bad for the Cyclones. They shot 44 percent from the field and 40 percent from behind the arc. That 40 percent clip from 3-point land led to eight makes. They only turned the ball over nine times.
Really the game came down to one thing. The Bears were just better.
They shot 50 from the field. Knocked down five 3-pointers to the tune of 50 percent. They dominated the paint outscoring the Cyclones 44-24. Plus, they out-rebounded the Cyclones 40 to 25. There’s a reason they’ve earned the title as the nation’s No. 4 team.
“There’s days when you do the best you can,” Fennelly said. “You compete, you prepare and you lose the game but you lose to a better team. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. I know losing hurts but you have to give Baylor the credit for what they did today.”
Things nearly went from bad to worse for Iowa State during the third quarter when junior guard Seanna Johnson hit the floor after being undercut on a rebound. Hilton Coliseum went silent as the Cyclones’ leader writhed in pain underneath the basket.
She got up and walked off the floor to the locker room with some help from the team trainers but reemerged only a few minutes later without any noticeable limp.
She returned to the game to put a bow on a 22-point and four-rebound performance despite facing multiple defenders at different times during the game.
“She took a hell of a fall and it was very awkward,” Fennelly said. “As a coach the worst thing in the world is to see a kid get hurt. It’s miserable. Your heart goes into your throat. Obviously for Seanna, the kind of season she’s having, you don’t want something like that to mitigate what she could do. We’ll evaluate it. I was not going to put her back in the game. She basically put herself in the game.”
Freshman center Meredith Burkhall was the only other Cyclone to score in double-figures with 12 points but six other Iowa State players found their way into the scoring column. Sophomore point guard Jadda Buckley dished out nine assists with just one turnover.
Iowa State didn’t play poorly in this game. Sometimes you just run into a buzz saw.
“They’re very efficient, they run a lot of stuff and they’re very unselfish,” Fennelly said. “Part of it is their size, execution, skill set, offense and part of it is we kind of stood around. Our big kids got to get better, quick. You can’t play the number of minutes they did today and have that few of rebounds. They’re going to get some. They’re big, they’re strong and they play hard but there were times where we got caught standing around.”
The Cyclones have now lost three straight games. Wednesday night they’ll have an opportunity to get their groove back when the TCU Horned Frogs roll into Ames for a 7 p.m. tip.
“We had a really bad week and there’s no denying it,” Fennelly said. “The challenge now is take tomorrow off come back Monday with three games again in seven days and have a great week. That’s your only choice. I’m not worried about four, five and six. I’m worried about the next one. It doesn’t matter to all you guys, or anybody, but I really, really appreciate and like what this team’s about. You want to see them have some success but we’ve got to go to work.”