No. 22 Oklahoma pulled away in the 4th quarter, a scenario that’s become too familiar in Big 12 play for the Iowa State women, and the Sooners defeated the Cyclones 67-57 on Wednesday night at Hilton Coliseum.
Bridget Carleton scored 15 points, Seanna Johnson had 14 points, and Meredith Burkhall contributed a double double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
The Cyclones (10-6, 1-4) struggled out of the gate, and the Sooners took advantage of early Iowa State mistakes for a 6-0 lead. Iowa State didn’t do a good job handling Oklahoma’s pressure and height, but a Carleton three followed by a layup from the Canadian sophomore put the Cyclones ahead 7-6.
The Cyclones stepped up their defense and rebounding to avoid the pressure Oklahoma implemented effectively earlier in the 1st quarter. With 4:12 left in the 1st, Johnson found Emily Durr for a wide-open trey and a 13-10 lead. Near the end of the quarter, Iowa State did a nice job driving the ball into the lane and getting to the free throw line. Coach Bill Fennelly’s emphasis on drawing fouls is certainly a key to Iowa State’s success - so far this season, the Cyclones have one of the best free throw shooting percentages in the nation. By the end of the quarter, despite Oklahoma’s quick start, Iowa State was ahead 16-14.
In the 2nd quarter, Oklahoma went ahead briefly, but Iowa State used an 8-0 run to take a commanding 24-17 lead. Burkhall buoyed the Cyclones with nine points in the 2nd, and the sophomore from Urbandale looked confident shooting the ball outside and drawing out Oklahoma’s long defenders. The Sooners hit a couple consecutive threes to cut into the Iowa State lead, but the Cyclones still went into the locker room with a 30-28 advantage.
Just like they did to start the game, the Sooners opened the 3rd quarter with a big run that put the Cyclones in a hole to start the half. Oklahoma dominated the paint early in the 3rd, and Iowa State scored just one basket in the first four minutes of the quarter. The Cyclone offense didn’t improve much at the end of the 3rd, and, while defense helped keep Iowa State close for a large portion of the quarter, the Sooners ultimately took a seven-point lead at 49-42 into the 4th.
Iowa State got within five points early in the 4th, and it appeared Sooner player and Iowa native Maddie Manning fouled Buckley hard on a drive to the basket, but the refs managed to see a different result than everyone else in Hilton, and Oklahoma extended its lead with a three pointer on the same possession. After pulling within 53-57, Burkhall drew an offensive foul, and Johnson converted on the other end of the floor to make Oklahoma’s lead just two points.
Iowa State had multiple chances to tie the game, but the Sooners got the stops they needed to hold off the Cyclones. It’s encouraging that the Cyclones have been competitive in five out of the six losses this season, but Iowa State sorely needs a marquee win to boost its NCAA tournament resume.
A road win would be a good way to start the pursuit toward another NCAA bid, and the Cyclones have an opportunity when they travel to Fort Worth for a noon tip on Sunday against TCU. The game is available on Fox Sports Southwest.