THE CROOKS EFFECT: Iowa State taps multiple scoring sources to beat Oklahoma State, 78-67

Iowa State Cyclones guard Emily Ryan (11) drives to the basket around Oklahoma State Cowgirls guard Quincy Noble (0) and forward Praise Egharevba (24) during the third quarter in the Big-12 conference matchup at Hilton Coliseum on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, in Ames, Iowa. © Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune / USA TODAY NETWORK

 AMES — Another night, another new career high in scoring for Audi Crooks.

 And Iowa State needed every one of the freshman center’s 29 points to fully put away Oklahoma State, 78-67, Wednesday before a crowd of 9,962 at Hilton Coliseum.

 “Her footwork. her hands — she’s just so skilled and she’s physical,” Cowgirls coach Jacie Hoyt said. “I mean, she’s good and when you put 3-point shooters around her, that’s just a pick-your-poison situation.”

 The Cyclones (13-7, 7-3 Big 12) tapped a variety of sources to plague Oklahoma State (11-10, 4-6) and snap a three-game skid. Senior point guard Emily Ryan nearly notched a triple-double with nine points, nine rebounds and 14 assists, and freshman Addy Brown produced a stat line of 14 points, eight rebounds and nine assists to help clip the injury-depleted Cowgirls.

 “We seemed to make (shots) when we really needed to make them,” said ISU head coach Bill Fennelly, whose team completed a regular-season sweep of Oklahoma State. “We struggled a little bit, but it just seemed like AJ (Arianna Jackson) would hit one, Hannah (Belanger) would hit one, Addy Brown would hit one, Emily Ryan would hit one right at the right time. So you were up four to seven, five to eight, eight to 11.”

 So as good as Crooks was — 14 of 21 from the field, while adding eight rebounds — the players around her proved to be difference-makers, as well. Jackson, for instance, drilled 4 of her 8 3-point attempts in critical moments and Brown scored five points to spur a 10-0 run that turned a 47-42 third-quarter deficit into a 52-47 advantage the Cyclones would never relinquish.

 “They started knocking down 3s when Oklahoma State started bringing that double team,” Crooks said. “So they couldn’t quite double (after that), and I just think we kept them on their toes all night because we’d go inside and then we’d go outside, so tonight is not possible without the guards.”

 Brown and Ryan combined for 14 of ISU’s 27 assists on 32 made baskets. That’s a staggering rate of sharing and it helped the Cyclones both withstand the Cowgirls’ third-quarter surge and pull away late.

 “(Crooks) is so unselfish (and) she’s willing to kick it out,” Ryan said. “So even if she doesn’t get the ball, she’s opening so much up for everyone else, so she did her thing inside and that opened a lot up for AJ, Addy and myself, and everyone else. So credit to Audi for going to work tonight and everyone else stepped up and hit shots when they were open.”

 ISU also excelled in taking care of the basketball, committing just four turnovers in the final three quarters after losing possession six times in the first. The Cyclones allowed Oklahoma State to score just 11 points off of turnovers — or seven lower than the average given up in their three consecutive conference losses.

 “Emily and AJ did a really good job,” Fennelly said. “And when you add Addy Brown, you can facilitate offense from different spots. But that’s a huge number for us, to keep that number down.”

 The Cyclones improved to 5-0 at Hilton Coliseum in Big 12 play and will travel to league newcomer UCF (10-9, 1-8) on Saturday.

 “I’m not a big ‘must-win’ guy,” Fennelly said. “To me, the must-win is the win you have to have to continue your season. But if you look at the grand scheme of things, this (was) pretty damn close to that.”