Rasir Bolton in action this season. © Bryon Houlgrave/The Register via Imagn Content Services, LLC
Iowa State shot better, hustled more, and showed a great deal of grit against No. 8 West Virginia Friday night in Morgantown.
That in itself is a win of sorts, given the early-season trajectory of both teams.
But in the end, the Cyclones (1-4, 0-2) were undone at the foul line, where the aggresssive Mountaineers scored 25 points to their six in a 70-65 road loss.
West Virginia (7-1, 1-0) also forced 21 ISU turnovers and held the Cyclones without a field goal in the final 3:54 of the game.
“We wanted to be involved in a really, really high level basketball game where it was competitive and we made tough plays,” ISU head coach Steve Prohm said after the game on the Cyclone Radio Network. “And then just live with the result. Now it’s hard to take a loss, because we put ourselves in a position to win the game and weren’t able to finish it down the stretch, but this team, I just kind of talked to them about their basketball character: staying the course, blocking out the noise because it’s going to take some time for them to grow and build and understand and I thought we really took some steps tonight and now we’ve got to home and take two more steps before we break for the holidays, but I was really proud that for 40 minutes, man, the effort that they played with and we were just one stop short.”
ISU’s Rasir Bolton led all scorers with a season-best 25 points on 9 of 17 field goal shooting. The junior went a perfect 5-for-5 from the line and added four assists, four rebounds and a steal. He also had zero turnovers while playing all 40 minutes.
“I thought he really competed on both ends of the floor,” said Prohm, whose team outshot West Virginia 49% to 38%. “Efficient offensively. Four assists. West Virginia — sometimes at West Virginia it’s about playmaking so he was attacking to score and sometimes maybe you miss shots or he could have had seven or eight assists and whatever he played, it may have been 40 minutes, to have no turnovers is a terrific effort.”
The Cyclones had nine steals to the Mountaineers’ eight and Jalen Coleman-Lands led the way with three of them. He also drained three 3-pointers in five attempts and finished with 11 points.
“We would like to say that each game we’ve been learning from our mistakes, so we’ve got to continue to grow and go back to making some adjustments,” Coleman-Lands said.
Javan Johnson and Tyler Harris added eight points each for ISU. George Conditt, who has been battling injury, scored four points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked a shot.
“You saw just a little glimpse of what we have and what we’ll continue to do,” Coleman-Lands said.
The Mountaineers were 15.5 favorites in this game.. Their only loss had been a five-point setback to No. 1 Gonzaga. The Cyclones played with as much toughness as I’ve seen from them in Morgantown in, maybe, forever, so the future of this season might not be filled with a ton of wins, but it could portend plenty of promise for seasons to come.
“We only got out rebounded by a couple,” Prohm said. “So again, just proud of the guys and we’ve got to keep going.”
The Cyclones plan to regroup Sunday at home against Jackson State.
“If we (were taking) a step then we’re going to go home and compete with the same kind of effort,: Prohm said. “If we do that, then we’ll be pleased heading into the next game.”