Women's Basketball

WBB: Iowa State gets harsh reminders during Cy-Hawk loss

Iowa City, Iowa – Iowa ran away with Wednesday’s Cy-Hawk women’s basketball game, beating Iowa State 70-57. It’s the eighth-straight Cy-Hawk game the Hawkeyes have taken away from Bill Fennelly’s squad in Iowa City.

This was a reality check for Iowa State.

“I really don’t know,” Fennelly said of his team’s shooting woes. “We were a little hesitant. I thought we had some looks and people passed them up. We have a lot of kids really, really care about their team. When they miss, they might not want to take the next one.”

The Cyclones finished the game with a 9-of-27 mark from the 3-point line and started things out 1-of-14 from the field overall.

Despite that, the team ended the first quarter tied with Iowa at 11-11. Iowa State led 28-23 at halftime and had held Caitlin Clark to six points in the first half.

Iowa State was in the drivers’ seat at halftime, and during the third quarter, the car was pulled directly into Iowa’s garage.

“When we passed up shots, we kind of played into their defense a little bit more,” Fennelly said. “That’s kind of the way I saw it. We’re capable of making those shots, we’re just not doing it. We haven’t done it for a while.”

Iowa turned the pressure on.

The Hawkeyes found Clark for three different triples during the quarter and finished 5-7 as the team in the frame. They ended the game at 7-10 in the second half.

With each shot, the anticipation and eventual jubilance in Carver Hawkeye Arena grew. Each time, that would start with an Iowa State turnover after an open shot was passed up.

The Cyclones ended the game with nine assists and 15 turnovers.

“Obviously, not very well,” Fennelly said when asked about how his team handled the little things on Wednesday. “That’s my fault. But again, you can’t miss eight free throws (in a row). And I think the other thing that our team needs to learn from and obviously need to be coached a lot better on is that (Iowa) made a lot of baskets at the end of the shot clock.”

Iowa’s 17-2 run to end the third quarter dwarfed a majority of the hope Iowa State had.

“You’ve got to finish possessions,” Fennelly said. “They did, we didn’t.”

But it’s hard to drive the car away when it’s got three flat tires.

“When you miss eight free throws in a row, that gets into everyone’s head,” Fennelly said.

Iowa State deviated from the things that made its team successful in this Cy-Hawk loss.

It worked about as well as a car with three flats trying to move around, but that call wasn’t by design.

This was a loss that came down, in different ways, to execution and it’s one the Cyclones will have to learn from.

This was a loss that can become a benchmark for a team with dreams of hoisting bigger trophies in March. Or it can become a trend of how it responds when the game is going the other way.

“We’ll learn from it,” Fennelly said. “Losing to a team like that – there’s no shame in that. We’ve got to play better. They outplayed us. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but that’s O.K. That’s part of it.”

If Iowa State makes a deeper run in March than it did a season ago, this game will be the catalyst.

There may not be a better reminder to play basketball like a vintage Cyclone team.

“We’re going to keep shooting it, sorry,” Fennelly said of his team’s 3-point shooting. “That’s who we are. That’s what we embrace. We’ve got to find a way to get them in a little bit better.”

When players are sent home for Christmas and fans are opening gifts, we may already know how far this team is into the process.

Nothing’s a certainty with a top-25 matchup on a neutral court and rivalry game still to come in the next two weeks. If the Cyclones end that stretch 3-0, three-point shooting might be the difference.

Wednesday, they may not have shot enough to find out.