Bill Fennelly and the Iowa State women’s basketball team entered the postseason knowing it would have a tough opening round game, in the 4-5-seed matchup vs. Kansas State.
Unfortunately, Iowa State’s five-game winning streak came to a close by losing in the Big 12 Tournament’s quarterfinal round for the fourth straight year, this time to the Wildcats by a score of 74-67.
“That was a NCAA Tournament game this morning,” said Kansas State head coach Jeff Mittie.
Before tournament play, the two teams split the regular season series. Iowa State won the first one, 75-68, and Kansas State won the second, 80-68. In their win over the Wildcats, the Cyclones’ “Big Three” (Jadda Buckley, Bridget Carleton and Seanna Johnson) all had outstanding games. But just like their previous loss to Kansas State, the same two players of the “Big Three” had subpar outings: Buckley and Carleton.
The pair only combined for 15 points on 4-of-18 shooting. Carleton also fouled out of the game.
“They guarded (Carleton) really hard,” Fennelly said. “She’s 2-for-11. You know, you have those nights. But, similar game plan. They denied her the ball, did a good job from preventing her from scoring, but she got 11 shots off. Just wasn’t her night…That’s the nature of basketball. We wouldn’t be where we are without her.”
The moments that doomed the Cyclones in this game included a three minute stretch during the third quarter. From the 5:20 to the 2:05 minute mark, Iowa State was outscored 12-0 and turned the ball over three times, with all three leading to Kansas State points.
“You are in a four-five game, in a great conference tournament, it only takes a couple plays,” Fennelly said. “We could not get a defensive rebound and couldn’t make a shot. Good teams make you pay for that.”
With the loss to Kansas State, Iowa State now has to wait nine days until it learns of its postseason fate.
Last four in: Iowa State, Virginia, West Virginia, Auburn
First four out: Indiana, Cal, Iowa, St. John’s
— ESPN Women’s Hoops (@ESPN_WomenHoop) March 3, 2017
Before this game, ESPN’s women’s “bracketologist” Charlie Creme had the Cyclones in the NCAA Tournament as one of the last four in teams. A win could have solidified Iowa State’s NCAA chances.
“One thing I want to make a point of, people get asked this question all the time about NCAA Tournament teams and all those things, I feel very strongly that Iowa State is a NCAA Tournament team,” Mittie said on the Cyclones’ Tournament chances. “If the eye test is true, and anybody who has two good eyes, that’s a NCAA Tournament team. OK. They have gone to Texas and won. There probably isn’t a bubble team out there with a top-5 win on the road in the last month. I hope they are certainly in (the tournament).”
Fennelly jokingly wished that Mittie was on the selection committee.
He also couldn’t have been prouder on how his team finished the regular season.
“I’ve had the honor to coach Iowa State for a long time and I don’t I’ve had a team, we’ve had a team that’s been that engaged,” Fennelly said. “We won five games in 13 days. We six of our last seven. Four of those games that we played were on the road. Amazing perseverance by them…Between the effort of the players and the effort of our staff, we are sitting here today even discussing NCAA Tournament, when February 1, we were just trying to get this thing over with.”