Texas (21-1, 10-1 Big 12) had a six point lead over the Iowa State women’s basketball team (12-10, 4-7 Big 12) Saturday afternoon at Hilton Coliseum when the Longhorns’ Empress Davenport missed a 3-pointer from the right wing with 6:13 left in the game.
Texas’ Ariel Atkins was there to grab the rebound and put up another shot that missed. This time it was Davenport there to grab the miss, put up a shot and miss again. Kelsey Lang was right there to grab the board and, finally, she was able to make the shot and extend Texas’ lead to eight.
It was the moment when everything started to unravel for the Cyclones after they’d battled to a 20-20 tie at halftime against the nation’s No. 6 team. They were down just four at the end of the third quarter.
The final score was 65-49 in favor of the Longhorns.
“When you don’t rebound, don’t take care of the ball, don’t make shots,” said Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly. “It’s impossible to beat anyone especially a great team like Texas.”
Looking at the stat sheet it’s hard to argue with Fennelly. The Cyclones shot just 31.5 percent from the floor, and that number was saved by a 61.5 percent third quarter. They shot 20 percent in the first, 21.4 percent in the second and 25 percent in the fourth.
Texas grabbed 20 offensive rebounds compared to just five for the Cyclones. Iowa State turned it over 16 times and had just six assists on 17 made field goals.
After seeing the stats it’s hard to believe the Cyclones were within five points with 4:43 left on the clock.
“Sometimes the stat sheet tells the story,” Fennelly said. “When you get out-rebounded the way we got out-rebounded, the way we shoot it, 16 offensive rebounds in the second half. You take the third quarter out we go nine for 31.”
It didn’t matter that Iowa State held Texas’ star Imani Boyette to zero points on 0-for-4 shooting in just 18 minutes before fouling out. It didn’t matter that the Cyclones shot 12-for-14 from the free throw line and 6-for-6 in the first half. It didn’t matter when Iowa State got out to a four-point lead halfway through the third quarter.
It didn’t matter because Texas always knew how to respond. The good teams do, and that team might even be a great one.
“We made a couple errors and they made us pay,” Fennelly said. “We helped off a couple people that we weren’t sure we were supposed to help off of. They made a shot and when you’re running around scrambling, you’re in the wrong place. When you look at it, it wasn’t their big guys that offensive rebounded. They send their guards to the boards which means we’ve got to gang rebound as well. We didn’t do it at all in the second half.”
Sophomore point guard Jadda Buckley was as good scoring the ball as she has been all year long pouring in 19 points on 6-for-12 shooting and 6-for-6 from the free throw line. As a distributor she struggled with six turnovers and zero assists. Junior guard Seanna Johnson added 16 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
The pair was good enough to keep the Cyclones in the game for the most of the afternoon while most of their teammates struggled.
Freshman forward Bridget Carleton shot just 1-for-11 and freshman post Meredith Burkhall was 2-for-7. It’s hard to win when two starters struggle mightily and your opponent can send out 12 different players compared to just six for Iowa State.
The Cyclones competed in this game, but at the end of the day, it comes down the Longhorns being better. Now it’s time to turn the page to a trip to Morgantown, W.Va. for a battle with the West Virginia Mountaineers Wednesday night.