The Iowa State women kept their NCAA tournament hopes alive on Wednesday night with a critical 79-68 win over the Texas Tech Lady Raiders at Hilton Coliseum.
The Cyclones (14-11, 5-9) still have a lot of work ahead if they want to return to the Big Dance. Along with the Big 12 tournament, two home games, a road trip to lowly Kansas, and the chance for a season-defining win on February 24 at Texas remain for Iowa State.
Jadda Buckley and Bridget Carleton each had 20 points on Wednesday night, and Seanna Johnson contributed 15 points and nine rebounds. Johnson eclipsed the 1,000 rebound mark, joining Cyclone legend Angie Welle as the only other Iowa State player with more than 1,000 boards.
The 1st quarter saw several runs. The Lady Raiders put the first points on the board, but a quick 6-0 run helped Iowa State take a 6-3 lead. Texas Tech then went on its own 8-0 run to jump ahead 14-6. The Cyclones clawed back to tie the game at 14-14 before Texas Tech scored the final four points of the quarter for a 18-14 lead.
A Carleton basket followed by a reverse layup from the Canadian sophomore made it a tie game, and Heather Bowe hit a jumper to put the Cyclones ahead 20-18. The run continued for Iowa State on a three from Johnson that forced Texas Tech to take a timeout.
The Lady Raiders stopped the bleeding out of the timeout, but Iowa State had another spurt that led to an eight-point lead midway through the quarter. TTU trimmed the lead down to four points, but three pointers from Carleton and Buckley gave the Cyclones some separation and a 36-28 lead at the half. Iowa State held Texas Tech to 10 points in the 2nd quarter.
Iowa State got off to a nice start in the 3rd quarter thanks to three free throws from Buckley. An Emily Durr three pointer put Iowa State up 14, and although Iowa State struggled to score for a large stretch midway through the quarter, the Cyclones maintained their distance thanks to strong defense. Heading into the final quarter, Iowa State was ahead 57-42.
In just two minutes, the Lady Raiders scored nine straight points to trim the Iowa State lead to six points. A much-needed three from Durr put Iowa State back up by nine with 7:25 to play. Buckley followed with a trey of her own on the ensuing possession, but Texas Tech converted on a three-point play to stay close. TTU got within six points on two free throws with just over four minutes to play, but Iowa State always had a response to stay a couple possessions ahead.
Iowa State was ahead 70-65 with less than three minutes to play, and both teams failed to score for over a minute before Buckley hit two huge free throws to put the Cyclones back up seven points. Strong defense and a layup from Buckley with 59 seconds to go helped the Hilton faithful breathe easier and sealed the victory for Iowa State.
Iowa State takes on West Virginia at Hilton on Saturday at noon. The Cyclones beat the Mountaineers in Morgantown 80-55 on February 4. Saturday’s game is available on Cyclones.tv.