Feb 9, 2021; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Rasir Bolton (45) drives to the basket as TCU Horned Frogs forward Chuck O’Bannon Jr. (5) and guard Taryn Todd (11) defend during the second half at Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Rasir Bolton did all he could.
Iowa State’s best all-around player led the Cyclones in scoring and matched team highs in rebounds and assists Tuesday at TCU, but his heroics weren’t enough to prevent a 79-76 loss to the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth.
“It’s disappointing,” ISU head coach Steve Prohm said on the Cyclone Radio Network postgame show. “I’ve got to do a better job of trying to help these guys finish those games. We did a terrific job the majority of the night.”
The 6-3 Bolton scored a season-high 26 points, grabbed six rebounds and doled out five assists. His 3-point play with 28 seconds left pulled ISU within three, at 77-74, but TCU (11-7, 4-5) was able to make enough plays in the closing moments to keep the Cyclones (2-12, 0-9) winless in Big 12 play.
ISU guard Tre Jackson missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with five seconds left.
“It just didn’t fall,” Jackson said.
And the Cyclones failed to corral the rebound — which was a theme Tuesday and has echoed all season.
The Horned Frogs, meanwhile, rarely failed in the rebounding category. They pummeled ISU on the boards, 51-30, and turned 21 offensive boards into 20 second-chance points.
“(That) was our Achilles heel tonight,” Prohm said.
The Cyclones led by as many as nine points on multiple occasions, but couldn’t overcome the cold shooting over the final quarter of the game and inability to compete on the glass throughout. They also battled foul trouble all night, with Bolton, Javan Johnson, Jalen Coleman-Lands and Jaden Walker all whistled for four fouls.
“We’ve got to do a better job on the defensive end in two areas,” Prohm said. “Guarding the ball, number one, without fouling, and then rebounding.”
Coleman-Lands added 12 points and Walker notched a career-high 10 for ISU. Johnson matched Bolton with five assists and George Conditt matched his rebounding effort with six boards.
(Conditt) did some really good things for us,” Prohm said. “He played with energy and purpose and it was good to see him back to his normal self tonight.”
TCU closed out the first half with a 9-0 tun to pull even at 38-all. It marked the first time the Cyclones didn’t trail at halftime in the last eight games, but the down-the-stretch fade ensured a winning breakthrough, once again, wouldn’t occur.
ISU continues its quest to attain its first conference victory Thursday at 6 p.m. (ESPN) when it plays Kansas in Lawrence.
The Cyclones will play their final seven regular season games in the next 15 days. They’ve continued to play better in recent games, but learning to win in league play remains a painful — and so far — fruitless process.
“There’s no question we’ve gotten better over these last two weeks,” Prohm said. “We’ve done a lot of really good things. We’ve just got to figure out a way to win.”