WBB: Freshmen score, inconsistencies return in loss to Syracuse

Audi Crooks shoots a free throw during Iowa State’s game against Vanderbilt at the South Point Shootout in Las Vegas. Photo Courtesy Iowa State Athletics Communications.

Iowa State closed out its Thanksgiving weekend in Las Vegas with an 81-69 loss to Syracuse at the South Point Shootout on Saturday.

The Cyclones played a more competitive game than they did Friday, but scoring spurts and untimely scoreless droughts again told the story for this team.

“It’s tough to lose back-to-back games, but we played two really good teams, but we’ll see,” coach Bill Fennelly said on the Varsity Sports Network postgame show. “We’ll see what we’re made of, but I thought we competed and did the little things, for the most part. It’s just, when we didn’t do the little things, they turned into really big things.”

Freshman Addy Brown tallied 19 points for the Cyclones along with 10 rebounds and five assists in the game, tying her career high in scoring.

Fellow freshman Audi Crooks set her own career high with 23 points on a 10-12 day shooting from the field.

However, Crooks finished 3-9 from the free throw line.

“It’s tough,” Fennelly said. “We’ve got to get that cleaned up, because she’s going to get fouled a lot. It could turn into a hack-a-shack kind of thing. We’ve got to play through the contact, get the and-1, and hit the free throw. She’s not going to be a 90 percent free throw shooter, but she’s going to get five or 10 attempts per game.”

Iowa State was riddled with scoreless droughts and untimely turnovers, with free throws adding to the debilitating factors.

Each of Syracuse’s leading scorers were fifth-year players in college basketball, while Iowa State played four freshmen on the floor in most cases.

“We’re going to run into that all year long,” Fennelly said. “The thing that we’ve got to get through is that we’ve got to get some balance. Obviously (Crooks and Brown) did a great job of scoring it, but you’ve got to play both ends of the floor. We’re struggling with that, struggling with some turnover decisions, but yeah, most of the game, we had four freshmen in there. The challenge is that you either embrace that or say, ‘well you’re a freshman.'”

As Fennelly said after Friday’s loss to Vanderbilt, Iowa State’s staff knows what it needs to improve on, and it wasn’t going to magically flip a switch over night.

The Cyclones will return to the court on Wednesday to face off against St. Thomas on the road in Minnesota.

“Their guard play was so much better than ours,” Fennelly said. “That was the difference in the game. That’s a very good team. Very mature.”