AMES — The Iowa State women’s basketball team’s 75-68 loss to the No. 16 Texas Longhorns at Hilton Coliseum was like a boxing match. When Texas landed a punch – a run in basketball terms – Iowa State seemed to swing and land a punch of its own.
“The game changed at the end of the first half,” said ISU coach Bill Fennelly. “We were down to two then down 11.”
Fennelly told his team at halftime to just fight them off. Iowa State stood toe-to-toe with Texas for the majority of the first 20 minutes and the Longhorns were backing the Cyclones into a corner. That message by Fennelly was heard by his roster and translated to the court in the second half.
When Iowa State’s shooting ability goes cold, things can turn ugly for the cardinal and gold. The second quarter was the ultimate example of that.
The Cyclones shot an measly 15 percent in the second 10 minute period. That cold shooting allowed Texas to build a demanding lead.
That’s when Iowa State found its hot hand and the comeback occurred.
Throughout the last 20 minutes, the Cyclones shot 53.8 percent from the field compared the Longhorns’ 48 percent. Not only did Iowa State’s shooting improve in the second half, but so did its defense. The Cyclones only allowed eight Texas points in the third quarter.
Late in the third as Iowa State was about to tie the game, Heather Bowe hit a shot and seemed to draw a foul. However, it was negated as two referees called to different fouls: a block by Texas and a charge by Bowe.
Fennelly thought that call was a momentum changer. If the call went Iowa State’s way, it would have tied the ball game to end the third quarter. Iowa State instead gave up four straight points to open the fourth.
“Our kids competed,” Fennelly said. “I have no qualms with how hard we played.”
Where is the bench?
During Iowa State’s Big 12 opener against Oklahoma State, the Cyclones got solid contributions from their bench – 14 points to be exact.
The majority of those points came from Bowe (11 to be exact) though, which means the other three bench players who saw action in Stillwater only recorded three.
Against Texas, Iowa State’s bench was nonexistent once again.
“We had 40 bench minutes and three points,” Fennelly said. “That’s a problem. We got to keep working on it and coach better.”
Rebounding improved, but still needs to get better
It’s no secret, the Cyclones lineup is pretty short. Rebounding is its biggest weakness.
The two tallest players who see substantial time for Iowa State, Bridget Carleton and Meredith Burkhall, stand at 6-foot-1 and 6-foot-3 respectively. Despite being undersized compared to Texas (who has five players who are 6-foot-3 or taller), the Cyclones out-rebounded the Longhorns, 36-34.
“We just crashed the boards,” said ISU guard Seanna Johnson. “We all went after it.”
While Fennelly would take his team outrebounding Texas on any given day, he still had his issues concerning Iowa State’s rebounding skills.
“I thought our kids really stuck their nose in,” Fennelly said. “But offensive rebounding is still a nonexistent for us, but defensive rebounding today was good.”
Up next for the Cyclones is a road trip to Texas Tech on Wednesday (6 p.m.).