The Iowa State Cyclones beat the Texas Longhorns, 66-61, in a Big 12 women’s basketball matchup at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa, on Monday. Here are three thoughts on the game.
No. 17 Texas (20-7, 11-3 in Big 12) saw its seven-game winning streak snapped.
No. 22 Iowa State (16-7, 8-5 in Big 12) snapped its three-game losing streak.
How Iowa State Won
One could point to a lot of different things, but let’s distill it. Ashley Joens had a great game, scoring 24 points and hitting some key free throws down the stretch to keep the Longhorns from making it a one-score game.
Iowa State’s zone defense showed up, making dribble penetration difficult for Texas and forcing a lot of sideline-to-sideline action on rotation passes, eating up clock and forcing passive offense.
The 3-point shooting returned to form. The Cyclones fired 8-for-15 from distance, with Joens and Lexi Donarski hitting three and Denae Fritz hitting two. Donarski had 11 points despite missing time with a split lip. Fritz had 10 points, but her second 3-pointer — from the corner with 37 seconds left on a second-chance shot created by a Nyamer Diew rebound — pushed ISU’s lead to 64-57 and effectively put Texas out of it.
Emily Ryan had 12 points and eight assists.
Just as important, Iowa State took advantage of Texas’ poor start from the floor, built a double-digit lead and never truly allowed the Longhorns to get into the game. Every time Texas made a run, Iowa State answered.
How Texas Lost
Texas made up for some of the Iowa State 3-point shooting by owning the offensive glass, 22-8. It led to 20 second-chance points for Texas. The Longhorns could have used more because their 3-point shooting was way off the mark all night. Sonya Morris, Texas’ leading 3-point shooter, didn’t make the trip due to injury. Texas failed to make a 3-pointer until the fourth quarter.
When Texas finally broke the ice, it happened fast. Shaylee Gonzalez and Shay Holle made back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the Iowa State lead to 57-53. That was the end of a 13-2 run for Texas. The Longhorns never got closer in the final three minutes.
Gonzalez had just three points. Rori Harmon gutted her way through poor shooting for most of the game to get 19 points, along with six assists and four rebounds. DeYona Gaston, who has been hot inside for Texas of late, cooled off a bit, scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds. The only other Texas player in double figures was Ndjakalenga Mwenentanda, who had 10 points.
Texas also battled foul trouble all night and Mwenentanda was the only Longhorn to foul out. Four other players had four fouls.
Texas has been nearly invincible at home this season. The road? Whole different story. Monday was the Longhorn’s fourth road loss.
Now It’s a Race
Well, now we have something. Oklahoma needed a little help and got it. Texas is now in a first-place tie with OU and the two teams play next week in Norman.
Behind them? Well, the Cyclones stayed in a second-place tie with Oklahoma State and Baylor with five losses each. Now, the Cyclones control their own destiny just a bit. They play Baylor and Oklahoma State in their next two games, both on the road.
Don’t get me wrong — ISU still needs help to win the Big 12. But sweep the next two road games and there’s a forgiving road to at least a third-place finish in the Big 12.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard