Happy New Year, everyone! After having their last game against Drake canceled due to inclement weather, the Cyclones would head to Lubbock, Texas to ring in the new year taking on the Red Raiders.
The first quarter of the Big 12 opener for the Cyclones was not exactly what was drawn up. It was a hotly contested ball game the entire opening frame, ending in the Cyclones tying it up at the horn with a free throw from Denae Fritz. While it was Fritz who made sure the game was equal, it was mostly the Soares and Joens show in the opening 10 minutes. Ashley put the first 9 points up on the board for the Cyclones, while Soares knocked down a couple of layups underneath off some nice ball movement from the Point God herself, Emily Ryan. It was 14 all after 1.
Then the floodgates opened. While the Cyclones struggled much of the day from deep (ending just 4-26), they attacked the basket beautifully in the 2nd quarter. En route to a 14-point lead at the half, the Cyclones outscored the Red Raiders 26-12 in the 2nd quarter, relying mostly on their 3-headed giant at the guard position: Lexi Donarski, Emily Ryan, and Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw. The guard play was the difference in the 2nd quarter in Lubbock. The ball movement was wonderful, they attacked the basket, got to the foul line, and made the Red Raider defense panic.
Coming out of the break, Texas Tech made some nice adjustments to try and force Iowa State to beat them without the use of the drive, and despite the shooting capability of the Cyclones, the 3-ball just wasn’t falling. It was much of what we’ve seen from this Cyclone team in the past where they use an offensive explosion in one of the middle quarters and then are able to suffocate their opponent and just never really let the game get close enough for any run to be a threat.
Tech did find a nice 8-0 run in the 4th quarter to cut the Cyclone lead to single digits, but when the going gets tough, the tough give the ball to Ashley Joens and let her put the game to bed. Tech picked up a critical technical foul after an Ashley Joens layup, and the 5-0 run for the Cyclones to re-extend the lead back to 14 was really the nail in the coffin.
The Cyclones continued their free throw shooting proficiency as the game came to a close, and they ended up picking up the win in their Big 12 opener in blowout fashion, 81-58.
The Cyclones return home to take on the Mountaineers of West Virginia on January 4th at 6:30 pm in Ames.