Jan 18, 2017; Waco, TX, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Bridget Carleton (21) is guarded by Baylor Bears guard Alexis Prince (12) during the second half at Ferrell Center. Baylor won 68-42. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports
This year’s Iowa State women’s basketball team has plenty of questions.
They started the season that way and some of those questions still exist seven games into the season. One thing that can be said for certain, this edition of the Twister Sisters sure knows how to fight.
Bill Fennelly’s team was forced to do just that Thursday night at the Knapp Center — and, boy, did they respond. In the end, their response was not enough in an 83-80 loss to Drake.
“I learned that they would compete and get through the tough stuff,” Fennelly said. “It’s probably a team I will tell you guys that I like being around and I like coaching more than maybe any team I’ve had in the last decade. From a basketball standpoint, we have some issues and that starts with me. I’ve got to do a better job of giving them a chance. They competed, they care about one another, they gave themselves a chance in a game that looked like it was going to be a blowout.”
The Cyclones trailed by 16 with 3:44 left in the third quarter, but were behind only three when the period ended. Drake pushed the lead back to nine within the fourth quarter’s first minute. No matter, Iowa State held a two-point advantage just four minutes later.
Oh, Drake is back on top after a Paige Greiner 3-pointer? There’s Brigdet Carleton answering with one of her own on the next possession. Adriana Camber pushed Iowa State’s lead to four with her fourth 3-pointer of the night on the Cyclones’ next possession.
The score stuck at 80-76 for almost a minute before Drake’s Maddie Monahan connected on a 3-pointer from the top of the key. The exclamation point came when Claire Ricketts collided with her on the closeout.
Monahan swished the free throw. 80-80 with 1:09 left.
“We weren’t able to close it out,” Carleton, who scored a team-high 21 points, said. “We didn’t get the stops defensively we needed to get. They made some big plays. We weren’t able to recover from that.”
Carleton missed a shot in the lane on Iowa State’s ensuing possession but was able to corral her own rebound.
Iowa State’s star brought the ball back outside and reset the offense. She got another chance to put the Cyclones back on top with a three from the top of the key. It missed.
Drake had the ball with 16 seconds left following a timeout.
The Bulldogs held the ball for nearly 10 seconds before Becca Hittner attacked the middle of the Iowa State defense. She pushed a floater towards the rim with her right hand. It hit off the backboard and fell through the net while the whistle blew for a foul.
Hittner’s eighth point of the night put the Bulldogs up by three with 2.4 seconds left.
Iowa State had one last shot, but Carleton’s 3-point attempt from the right wing was blocked. The women’s basketball equivalent of a 10-round decision was over — and the Bulldogs were left standing victorious.
The Cyclones left the Knapp Center Thursday night with a loss for the second straight time, but this young squad proved it is not scared to stand and fight when the going gets tough. They took punch after punch from the defending Missouri Valley Champions and were still standing at the end.
There is no questioning this Iowa State team’s desire to compete.
“Everyone talks about moving on,” Fennelly said. “I’m not a big move on person. I think people who move on kind of use that as an excuse and what happened, you can forget. I’m more about move up, move forward. Something like that.”