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Cyclones complete epic comeback, defeat Wildcats 73-70

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MAGGIE ESPENMILLER-MCGRAW!

Syndication: The Des Moines Register Bryon Houlgrave/The Register via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Iowa State heads to Manhattan to take on the 25th ranked Wildcats of Kansas State. Much like on the men’s side, road games in this conference are always tough to come by, and Ayoka Lee and the Wildcats (whose only 2 losses to this point have been Top 5 teams in NC State and South Carolina) are no exception.

Ayoka Lee and the Wildcats dominated much of the first half of this one. Lee dropped 24 of the Wildcats 35 points, tying the Cyclones’ total as the first half wound down with the Cyclones shooting under 40%. The Cyclones' only lead of the half came right off the bat with a 3-2 lead on an Ashley Joens 3-pointer. Ashley was about the only Cyclone who shot the ball well in the first half, as it seemed she had found her rhythm for this one. She led all Cyclone scorers with 9 in the first half and 27 on the game. She and the rest of the Cyclones really found their groove in the 2nd half, though, as the Cyclones lit it up from 3. 3 of 5 in the 3rd quarter and a staggering 6 of 7 from deep in the 4th quarter as the Cyclones steadily climbed and battled their way back into this one.

The shooting in the 2nd half was all that really went for Iowa State as they tried to finesse their way back into a game where Ayoka Lee would end up scoring 38 points on 18-29 shooting underneath. But hey, if you’re going to trade 2s for 3s, you're going to work your way back into it eventually, right? And shoot their way back into it they did. With Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw and Ashley Joens combining to shoot 8-12 from deep and 14-25 overall, the Cyclones found themselves within striking distance much of the 2nd half. K-State found some timely shots from Lee and others, but the Cyclones' consistent barrage closed it to just a 3-point game with a Lexi Donarski triple with 3:33 to go. Donarski and fellow guard Emily Ryan were fairly quiet, combining for 19 points on the day, but both played major roles late as Ryan still found herself with 7 assists at the end of the day, while Donarski had 13 points.

The Wildcats extended the lead back up to 5 with a Rebekah Dallinger 3 with 2:39 to go, but the Cyclones weren’t done fighting just yet. With the lead cut to 4 after an Ashley Joens free throw, Iowa State turned to some of the most unlikely of heroes to steal one in Manhattan. Morgan Kane had a hell of a time trying to guard Ayoka Lee all day, and with the game on the line, Kane stepped up off an inbound pass with 1:11 to go and absolutely buried just the 5th made 3-pointer in her career. 1-point game with just over a minute left. The Cyclones who had been down as many as 11 in the 2nd half, were 1 shot away from stealing one in Manhattan. The teams traded empty possessions after that and as Rebekah Dallinger missed an open 3 with just 20 seconds left, the Cyclones had a chance... and the leading scorer off the bench wasn’t going to let it go to waste.

Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw got the ball on the right wing and let one fly. It looked off on tv, it looked off to the broadcasters... but someone forgot to close the banks in town and she cashed it off the glass. K-State would have a chance to answer with 3 seconds left, but would throw the inbounds pass away and Ashley Joens would make one last free throw to put the game away, 73-70.

Comeback complete

1st place in the Big 12 secured

GAME STATS

Iowa State Cyclones

Kansas State Wildcats