Big 12 Tournament, here we go. Rough opening draw for the fourth-seeded Cyclones, who would start their tournament off with the only team in conference play that beat them both times: The Texas Longhorns. Texas had their way with Iowa State in the regular season, winning both games by a combined 26 points. Would Iowa State avoid the complete season sweep, or could they keep their Big 12 Tournament Championship hopes alive/
Both teams started by trading blows in the 1st. Joanne Allen-Taylor, Charli Collier, and Celeste Taylor made 3 straight 3s for Texas, while Ashley Joens and Kristin Scott kept the Cyclones close with made shots of their own. A back-and-forth first quarter with its fair share of runs and droughts by both teams ended with Iowa State holding a slim 1-point lead.
The second quarter was not nearly as entertaining. Both teams went ice cold from the floor as with a mere minute and a half left before halftime, and neither team had scored double-digit points—Texas with 9, Iowa State with 8. Tie game. That was when Joanne Allen-Taylor rattled off 5 straight points for the Longhorns, and the sluggish 2nd frame came to a close with the Longhorns up 32-27.
Coming out of the break, it was a lot more like the 1st quarter: Run and gun shooting, good transitions by both teams, and some big defensive efforts. Texas’s efforts from deep had them extend their lead slightly as the teams traded baskets on each of their first 2 possessions. Then, Ashley Joens showed up. Back-to-back and-1s for the Cyclone star brought the score even again with 6:24 to go in the 3rd. Texas had an answer, though. The 12-3 run that followed was disastrous for the Cyclones (I should note, this run came on the heels of an awful foul call on Morgan Kane, who got slung to the ground and still got called.) The Cyclones would get the quarter's final basket with an Emily Ryan triple to cut the lead to 6.
Now for the 4th. Names are made in March, and both teams had some big names making big plays. Ashley Joens and Kristin Scott for Iowa State, and Kyra Lambert and Joanne Allen-Taylor for Texas. 8 straight for Kristin Scott on the Cyclones’ end, with some varied answers from Texas, cut the lead to 5 before Ashley Joens and the freshman duo of Emily Ryan and Lexi Donarski added 6 straight for the Cyclones, giving them the 1-point advantage. Kristin Scott added 2 more before Kyra Lambert added another 3 to her tally, and we had ourselves a tie game with 3:33 to go. The teams traded blows the final 3 and a half minutes. No one really getting a grip on the ending of the game. With fouls to give, Iowa State smartly disrupts the UT gameplan around 5 seconds left and held on through the buzzer. Overtime in Kansas City.
Texas won the tip in OT starting the 5-minute extra period. Texas continued their hot shooting, this time it was Ashley Chevalier who lit it up. 5 straight from her (including a 3) got Texas the quick lead in the first minute. Ashley Joens and Emily Ryan, with the game on the line, found a few answers to keep Iowa State within a possession. Texas finally got the lead to 4, before Kylie Feuerbach hit her first basket of the game, a contested 3, to cut the lead back to one. Celeste Taylor hit both FTs, and Iowa State found themselves down 3 again. On the ensuing inbound play, Iowa State turned it over, and immediately fouled Kyra Lambert. A 5-point deficit in 23 seconds would be tough to overcome. Ashley Joens buried a triple to cut it to 2. In “extend the game” mode, Iowa State State traded fouls for shots. Emily Ryan buried a 3 to make it a 1 point game with 4.5 to go. Texas went 1-2 from the line, but unfortunately for Iowa State, Lambert missed the back half, and the final 2.4 ticked off before Iowa State could find a shot. 84-82 Texas.
Turns out, Texas was just the Cyclones’ kryptonite this season. Iowa State will head into the tournament on a losing note, but with their chins high and motivated as ever.