The offensive struggles continued for the Iowa State women in Morgantown on Wednesday night, where the Cyclones fell to the Mountaineers 47-57. Iowa State (12-11, 4-8) is now in serious jeopardy of missing its first NCAA tournament since the 2005-06 season. Seanna Johnson led Iowa State with 19 points and eight rebounds, and Jadda Buckley added 17 points.
Iowa State, which didn't score a point until 5:18 left in the 1st quarter, tried three different post options in the first three minutes of the game. Meredith Burkhall, Madison Baier, and Claire Ricketts were all unable to provide an early spark for the Cyclones. Bill Fennelly looked for any possible answer, and Emily Durr came off the bench and made two free throws for Iowa State's first points. The Cyclones had an awful 1st quarter shooting the ball, but they still managed to take an 8-6 lead with 1:46 to play in the period. Buckley extended the lead to 11-6 with a three-point play. By the end of the quarter, despite shooting just 22% from the floor, Iowa State held a 14-10 advantage over the Mountaineers. The Cyclones hit all five of their free throw attempts in the quarter and were boosted by a last-second three from Buckley.
The revolving door in the post continued into the 2nd quarter, and it appeared Fennelly was perfectly willing to only give players a possession or two to get something going before trying another option. Much like the 1st quarter, Iowa State struggled to get off to a good offensive start in the 2nd. West Virginia used a 6-1 run and nearly a five minute scoring drought by Iowa State to take a 16-15 lead midway through the quarter. Both teams had numerous turnovers and missed opportunities under the basket in an ugly 2nd quarter. With 3:02 left in the quarter, Buckley hit Iowa State's first field goal of the 2nd. Given the poor shooting and eight first-half turnovers, it's fair to say the Cyclones were fortunate to be down just 21-26 at the half. Buckley led the Cyclones with 11 points in the first 20 minutes.
The 3rd quarter started with a quick Johnson trey that brought the Cyclones within two points. Aside from this early basket, it was more of the same on offense to start the half. Iowa State had no turnovers in the 3rd quarter, but it still had trouble getting shots to fall. Kidd Blaskowsky kept the Cyclones in striking distance with a three pointer midway through the quarter. Heading into the final 10 minutes, Iowa State trailed the Mountaineers 33-39.
The Cyclones hung around at the beginning of the 4th quarter and used a 6-0 run to tie the game at 39 with just over seven minutes to play. Moments later, Johnson made two free throws to give Iowa State its first lead since the 2nd quarter. West Virginia answered with a 6-0 run of its own to take a four-point lead with five minutes to play. With 3:35 to play, a made jumper from Burkhall left the game tied. Iowa State struggled to rebound in the final minutes, and West Virginia got to the line to extend the lead to five points with under two minutes to play. The Cyclones were within three points with 90 seconds left, but the Mountaineers once again converted at the free throw line and ran away with the game in the final minute.
Throughout the game, Iowa State did a nice job defending the three point line, where the Mountaineers shot just 2-16, but the Cyclones shot only 25% from the floor. If Iowa State hopes to make a February push, it must find consistent scoring options beyond Johnson and Buckley. Iowa State travels to Fort Worth on Saturday to take on TCU at 1pm. The Cyclones lost to the Horned Frogs 62-72 on January 27 at Hilton Coliseum.