A strong defensive effort coupled with efficient offense allowed the Iowa State women to coast to a 77-48 win over the Texas Tech Lady Raiders on Wednesday night at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones, who had lost eight of their previous nine games, appeared confident and comfortable in the friendly confines of Hilton. Iowa State was led in scoring by freshman forward Meredith Burkhall, who had 19 points. Bridget Carleton finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Carleton has put herself in a great position to earn Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors.
It was another slow start for the Cyclone women, who trailed 2-8 midway through the 1st quarter, but Iowa State's struggles did not last long on Wednesday night. The Iowa State defense was strong throughout the 1st, and a deep three pointer from Carleton gave the Cyclones the lead at 10-8. Suddenly, after being down six points early, Iowa State was up 10 points by the end of the quarter. Seanna Johnson hit a three to close out the first 10 minutes, and the Cyclones held the Lady Raiders scoreless for nearly six minutes. Iowa State limited Texas Tech to just 18% shooting in the 1st quarter.
Iowa State's zone defense continued to be superb to start the 2nd quarter, and the Cyclones extended the lead to 23 points on a 29-0 run that was only stopped when the Lady Raiders used a couple free throws to end their 10-minute scoring drought. Once Iowa State made the huge run, there was little doubt that the Cyclones would notch their first win since February 2nd.
In the 2nd half, the Cyclones continued to play smart, limit turnovers, and make timely baskets to keep the Lady Raiders at bay. Texas Tech never got within striking distance in the final 20 minutes. The 4th quarter offered Iowa State a chance to rest its starters and give the reserves substantial playing time.
Barring a magical run to end the Big 12 season, it still appears almost certain that Iowa State will miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since the 2005-06 season. A WNIT appearance could still be in the cards, which would offer some valuable postseason experience for this young Cyclone squad. Kidd Blaskowsky and Madison Baier are the only seniors on this year's team. With four starters returning and Vanderbilt transfer Heather Bowe also eligible to play for the Cyclones next season, there is a lot to look forward to with Iowa State women's basketball.
The Cyclones can still play a role in the Big 12 race this season, as they take on the No. 4 Baylor Bears on Saturday at 2pm. The game will be shown on Fox Sports Southwest Plus. Iowa State fell to the Bears 61-77 on January 23 at Hilton Coliseum.