The Kansas State Wildcats snapped Iowa State’s five-game winning streak in a Big 12 Quarterfinal in Oklahoma City on Saturday. The 67-74 defeat marks the first loss since the Cyclones fell to KSU back on February 11. Now, Iowa State (18-12) must wait until Selection Monday to learn its postseason fate.
Emily Durr scored 21 points for the Cyclones, Heather Bowe contributed another 13 points off the bench, and Seanna Johnson finished with 12 points.
The Wildcats and Cyclones got off to a slow start offensively, but Iowa State was eventually able to break through for a solid lead. Johnson got the scoring started with a three, and Durr followed that up with a three of her own on the next possession for a 6-4 lead. Jadda Buckley took a key charge on Breanna Lewis midway through the 1st quarter that gave the Wildcat player two fouls, but Lewis stayed in even after drawing her second. The gamble proved ill-advised, as Lewis, an important post presence for Kansas State, got her third foul before the 1st quarter was even finished.
The Cyclones took advantage of Kansas State’s scoring troubles to take a 13-4 lead on another trey from Durr, who finished the 1st quarter with eight points. Fantastic defense propelled Iowa State to a 15-7 lead at the end of the initial period.
The Wildcats started the 2nd quarter with a 6-0 run that trimmed the Iowa State lead to just two points. The run swelled to a 12-1 start to the 2nd for Kansas State that gave them a 19-16 advantage, and Bill Fennelly was forced to take a timeout. Once Kansas State went ahead, the lead changed several times as the half came to a close.
Bridget Carleton struggled from the field throughout the game, finishing just 2-11, but she kept the Cyclones close with an offensive rebound and layup that made it 22-23. Shortly after, Buckley fought through the Wildcat defense for a bank shot that gave Iowa State a 24-23 lead. By the end of the half, Kansas State held a 25-24 lead.
The Cyclones stayed closed to start the 3rd quarter and took a 33-30 lead thanks to a 7-0 run. But the Wildcats quickly went on a run of their own that gave them a 12 point lead at 50-38. Iowa State appeared at risk of falling even further behind, but a few strong drives to the basket helped the Cyclones trim the lead to seven points with 10 minutes to play.
Several opportunities to get closer to the Wildcats were not successful early in the 4th quarter, but Bowe converted on a three-point play that brought the Cyclones to within four at 50-54. The Iowa State defense improved drastically from the 3rd quarter, which allowed Johnson to tie the game at 56-56 on a coast-to-coast drive to the basket.
The offense stalled for Iowa State in the closing minutes, but strong defense helped the Cyclones stay in the game. Ultimately, though, the Cyclones just couldn’t get a basket at several vital opportunities, and Kansas State was able to pull away for the victory.
Iowa State awaits its NCAA Tournament status, which will be revealed on Monday, March 13 at 6pm on ESPN.