Big 12 semifinal day
A date with the Baylor Bears on the line as Iowa State takes on Texas in the Big 12 Conference Tournament.
Very similar to their opener against West Virginia, Iowa State and their opponent started out the game trading baskets for baskets and stops for stops as both teams battled inside and out in a flurry of points in the first quarter. Texas started the game much better though striking early and often with a pair of 3-pointers, one each from Joanne Allen-Taylor and Shay Holle. The 1st quarter went back-and-forth between runs as the Cyclones closed it to 9-5 before Texas extended back to 16-9 and Iowa State answered right back closing it to 18-16 by the end of the final frame, capped off by a triple by Lexi Donarski.
The second quarter was really when Iowa State started to shine. Ashley Joens hit back-to-back 3s while her sister Aubrey tacked on a 3rd three in a row for the Twister Sisters and they built their largest lead of the game at 9, 29-20 just over halfway through the quarter. Texas’ Rori Harmon was a thorn in the Cyclones’ side all afternoon as she scored or assisted on 3 straight possessions for the Longhorns including a pair of 3s right around the 2:00 mark. Rori, a seasonal 28% 3-point shooter, did what all bad shooters do against us and knocked down 5 of her 8 attempts from deep, more than doubling her previous best of 2 made 3s which she did twice this season. One of those games, you guessed it, happened against these very Cyclones.
But whatever the case, Iowa State managed to maintain their lead going to the half, 34-28.
The 3rd quarter was not exactly what the doctor ordered for Iowa State. They still put up their typical 18 points in the quarter, but Texas finally got their bigs going down low as Lauren Ebo, who had been held scoreless through 1 half, scored 7 in the 3rd quarter, and got her counterparts, Morgan Kane and Beatriz Jordao in foul trouble, getting to the line a couple of times over the frame. The Longhorns overpowered the Cyclone defense for 25 points in the quarter and the Cyclones found themselves down one heading into the final 10 minutes.
Speaking of a close back-and-forth game, how bout that fourth quarter? An absolute slugfest (no pun intended) down low resulted in just 21 total points as no team was able to create any separation as the clock wound down. No team was able to find a bucket after Ashley Joens picked up an and-1 with 4:15 to go to close the game to 63-61 Longhorns. Beatriz Jordao was not to be denied, though. With Texas looking to kill the clock in the final minute and score a late bucket to go up 2 possessions, Jordao (with 4 fouls) picked up a massive block on Joanne Allen-Taylor with 37 seconds left and the Cyclones would have one final time to tie it up. Coming out of a timeout, Emily Ryan got a pick from Jordao who rolled to the rim and Ryan found her on the block for the game-tying layup with 23 seconds to go. As Texas’ Lauren Ebo tried to finish the game down low on the other end, it was Jordao (again, with 4 fouls) who got in the way, altered the shot, and sent us into overtime tied at 63.
And that’s where it ended, right? And since Iowa State is the higher seed, we move on? Math seems to check out here... Yup, that works for me. See you tomorrow, Baylor
Except that’s unfortunately not how basketball works. Texas got 2 of Harmon’s 5 three-pointers to start overtime, and even Jordao’s first career 3-pointer in between them wasn’t enough for Iowa State. Harmon took over the game in overtime, scoring 12 of her 30 points and the Longhorns hit their free throws down the stretch to close out the game, 82-73.
With the loss, Iowa State’s hopes at a #2 seed for the NCAA Tournament hang in the balance, but at the end of the day, this team will have a top 3 seed in the tourney and a record-setting season to support that. This team is not done yet. They’re going to make some noise later this month.