Like their male counterparts, the Twister Sisters find themselves in a massive showdown against a highly ranked North Carolina squad in the Phil Knight invitational. The Cyclones look to hand the Tar Heels their first loss of the season on a chilly Sunday night in Portland.
Things would get started slowly in the first quarter for both teams. Stephanie Soares got ISU their first points of the game by fighting on the offensive glass and getting an easy put-back layup. Both sides weren’t making it easy to get anything going inside the paint. Ashley Joens got her first points on the scoresheet with a pull-up three. Alyssa Ustby was having some success for UNC early on with 6 points in the first quarter. Maggie Espenmiller-Mcgraw (MEM) would finish the scoring in the quarter with a triple of her own to send Iowa State up 17-11 going into the second.
Soares once again opened the scoring for ISU and after another MEM bucket from beyond the arc and the Cyclone lead stretched to double digits. This wouldn’t change heading into half. UNC was unable to score for the first four minutes of the second quarter thanks to stellar defense from ISU. After dominating inside the post, Soares got in on the fun from three-point range with one of her own to cap off a 12-0 run. The broadcast crew certainly weren’t holding their tongue when it came to their admiration of Soares’ talent. Soares led all scorers in the first half with 12 points to go along with her 9 rebounds. To give you an idea of the offensive struggles hampering the Tar Heels, they shot 7-33 from the field while only having 3 scorers. ISU would lead at half 35-22.
Iowa State got the scoring started out of the half, this time with Joens. North Carolina showed tons of fight in the third and slowly began to chip away at the Cyclone lead, mainly through Ustby and despite three straight travel calls on the offensive end. UNC would do what they’ve done all tournament, hang around. Joens and Ryan hit back-to-back threes to pull away, however a late 7-0 run from the Tar Heels would cut the lead to just 6. Joens continued her strong quarter of scoring with a rattling long ball that eventually found its way in. ISU heads into the final quarter up 53-45
This is where the fun would stop for Iowa State. UNC started the fourth quarter absolutely on fire from every inch of the court. It felt as if a completely different team was on the floor for North Carolina. The Tar Heels would go on a blistering 23-3 run to take the lead away. Soares hit three free throws which were immediately answered by a Kennedy Todd-Williams three, who had all of her 17 points in the second half. After an MEM three and a 7-0 Cyclone run the game would once again be tied, but that’s as close as ISU would get to completing the comeback. Three straight inbounds plays for the twister sisters ended up in the hands of North Carolina that all led to free throws, which all led to points, and eventually a final score of 73-64 in favor of UNC.
What felt like three quarters of nothing but dominance from Joens and Soares that would lead to an easy ISU victory, quickly turned into another comeback win for the Tar Heels in this Phil Knight invitational. Poor execution late in the game coupled with North Carolina shooting on a basket that felt 10 feet wide ended the Cyclones' tournament run in disappointing fashion.