The Syracuse Orange were red hot in an 85-65 victory over the Cyclone women that quickly concluded Iowa State’s return trip to the NCAA tournament. The Cyclones hung tough over the last three quarters in the Saturday afternoon game in Storrs, Conn., but Bill Fennelly’s squad couldn’t overcome a 25-point lead that Syracuse built after just 10 minutes.
Seanna Johnson finishes her career as one of the most impressive players in Iowa State history. The senior had 21 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists in her final game as a Cyclone.
Syracuse raced out to an early 9-0 start thanks to wide open threes and a cold start for the Cyclones. Bridget Carleton got Iowa State on the board with a three of her own, but Syracuse quickly extended its lead back to nine against a porous Cyclones defense. It appeared Bill Fennelly and his team were content to let Syracuse take deep looks, and the Orange certainly took advantage, hitting six of 10 from beyond the arc in the first six minutes.
The Orange onslaught continued throughout the 1st quarter, and a timeout by Iowa State didn’t do much to slow Syracuse down. By the end of the quarter, the Orange held a 33-8 lead thanks to 11-20 shooting. The Cyclones started a dismal 2-18 from the floor and were outmatched in every facet of the game in the first 10 minutes.
The Cyclones improved their shooting and corrected some of the errors from the 1st quarter, but they were unable to make much of a dent into the huge Syracuse lead. Although Syracuse cooled off slightly in the 2nd quarter, they took a commanding 45-24 lead into the locker room.
Iowa State got a quick bucket to start the 3rd quarter that brought the Cyclones within 19 points, but Syracuse quickly responded with a layup of their own. Carleton made a three to trim the Orange lead to 31-49, and the Cyclones converted on another three to make it 34-51. Iowa State had a few opportunities to make things even more interesting, but they couldn’t get closer than 17 points the rest of the game. Adriana Camber saw her first NCAA tournament action in the 3rd quarter due to TeeTee Starks going down with a sprained ankle. Starks did not play in the 2nd half. Heading into the final 10 minutes, Syracuse maintained a 20-point, 67-47 advantage.
Seniors Seanna Johnson, Heather Bowe, Jordan Jensen, and Lexi Albrecht concluded their Iowa State careers with a return to the NCAA tournament that appeared unlikely as recently as the beginning of February. Iowa State, which finishes the season 18-13, made the NCAA tournament thanks to five straight wins to close out the Big 12 regular season. Highlights of the season included a 25-point road victory against No. 22 West Virginia and a 70-66 win in Austin against No. 6 Texas.
While it will be nearly impossible to replace Johnson, the Cyclones return two key leaders - Jadda Buckley and Bridget Carleton - who have the ability to guide Iowa State back to the Big Dance next year.