Women's Basketball

WBB: Cyclones won’t apologize for who they are after loss to Baylor

The second-largest crowd in Iowa State women’s basketball history poured into Hilton Coliseum on Monday night hoping to see its team clinch a share of the Big 12 regular-season championship.

The crowd saw its team shoot 35.7 percent from the field, 18.2 percent from the 3-point line and a second-quarter lead turn into a double-digit, halftime deficit in a matter of minutes against the No. 5 Baylor Bears.

The Cyclones suffered an 87-62 loss.

“We were not nearly good enough in a lot of areas and that’s my fault,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said after the game. “I thought we were ready to do some of the things we need to do. We couldn’t get it done.”

Iowa State couldn’t find a way to slow down NaLyssa Smith, who posted 28 points and 20 rebounds.

It couldn’t find a way to keep its lineup, which was without Lexi Donarski for the entirety of the second quarter and saw Ashley Joens exit the game with seven minutes on the clock, out of foul trouble.

The things that needed to go Iowa State’s way just swung in the opposite direction.

“We’re not going to win many games going 4-22 from the 3-point line or with (Donarski) in foul trouble,” Fennelly said. “That was one of those (games) where you have to get to halftime and we probably should have just slowed it down and limped it there.”

The formula was there for Iowa State, it just ran into its Achilles heel and didn’t do anything to help its case.

And despite the loss, this team will still go into March with a group that’s won more games than any other in program history.

Fennelly made that clear in his postgame press conference.

“There’s been a lot of times when Baylor’s won the league a month ago,” Fennelly said. “We got to the last week and we didn’t do what we could have done, but I’m not going to apologize for being 24-5. I’m just not going to. If you want to write that the Cyclones whatever the bed, that’s fine. It won’t bother me one bit. I’m just not going to go there.”

“We are 24-5 and everyone’s making a big deal about the crowd – tonight was special.”

Inherently, the whole season has been. The Cyclones have set a plethora of records and have only lost to three teams all year.

It will remain a team that is capable of shooting the ball and overwhelming its opponent. That won’t change and it proved it can do that against Baylor, winning in Waco previously with that same gameplan.

“They overwhelmed us with their size,” Fennelly said. “You’ve just got to get one basket to go in to stop the bleeding.”

That basket didn’t come on Monday, and although it changes the path for the team to reach its goals, it doesn’t change the matter of if it’s capable of reaching them or not.

The plan is in place for the Cyclones to beat teams like it faced on Monday. They aren’t going to do a wholesale change on that.

“We are who we are, and I’m not going to apologize for it,” Fennelly said. “I’m not going to do that.”

What Iowa State needs to win games like that is a lot more things to go right than what did on Monday.

Fortunately for the Cyclones, things like that can happen in the postseason and this team will be in a good spot to set that up.

If it beats West Virginia on Saturday, Iowa State will head to Kansas City as the No. 2 seed in the conference with a shot to be the same seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Iowa State doesn’t need to apologize for trusting what got it to the big game. It only needs it to work for 40 minutes a few times in March.