Women's Basketball

WBB: Iowa State goes cold in Orlando, drops road game to UCF

Iowa State Cyclones forward Addy Brown (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State Cowgirls forward Praise Egharevba (24) during the fourth 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

There wasn’t much sunshine in Iowa State’s trip to Orlando over the weekend as the Cyclones dropped their fourth-straight road game, this one to a UCF squad that was 1-8 in conference play coming in.

The team shot 38.5 percent overall and got out-rebounded by the Knights in the 71-66 loss, dropping its record to 7-4 in the Big 12.

“I think it shows, this is maybe the first time all year we’ve been out rebounded,” coach Bill Fennelly said on the Varsity Network postgame show. “I think that’s that sends a message as to you know, ‘are we a step slow to the ball,’ and that probably translated to the defense in the second half.”

Fennelly wasn’t pleased with the team’s defense in the final 20 minutes, and it opened the door for UCF to overcome a 7-point third quarter deficit.

“(UCF) played really well in the second half and defensively we were just… we just really had a hard time moving our feet and keeping the ball in front of us.” Fennelly said. “But you’ve got to give them credit. You know, I thought the first half, defensively, we were fine. When you start combining that with giving them drives to the rim – we just really had a hard time guarding the ball, and our rotations were slow and you know, they didn’t do anything we didn’t work on, but again – to their credit, they did. They did what they do and we couldn’t we couldn’t stop it.”

Iowa State got a career-high 33 minutes out of Audi Crooks in the game, but with only eight shot attempts, she couldn’t produce as much as she has in recent games. Even so, she still corralled a double-double.

Emily Ryan was good for 18 points in the game, finishing 10-10 from the free throw line. It just wasn’t enough for the win.

“Our focus is on how we prepared for the game,” Belanger said. “The days leading up (to this game), we lacked focus, and it showed today.”

The team will have a bit of time to think about the loss, as it begins it’s bye-round from conference play. Iowa State will return to the court in a week, facing off with Oklahoma in its next game at Hilton Coliseum.

“Our young guys probably had their first real young guy moment today,” Fennelly said. “As a group, we just got to keep working on that and then challenge ourselves to figure out what’s the best way to practice moving forward. You know, what lineups can we mix and match? Because, obviously our next home game is Oklahoma, who’s playing really as well as anybody, not just in our league, but in the country the way they’re playing. So, you know, we’ll see. It’s a tremendous challenge.”