The Twister Sisters look to join the men at 3-0 in the conference while also playing a ranked opponent on the road. They traveled to Norman, Oklahoma to take on the 17th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners.
It was a rocky start for the Cyclones, but not necessarily because of the scoreline. Cyclone Center Stephanie Soares went down with an apparent ankle injury early in the game and did not return. Soares has been a crucial piece to this Cyclone team both offensively and defensively, and with a team as good as Oklahoma, Iowa State would need a complete team effort to try and continue the win streak.
The Cyclones were able to hang with the Sooners for the entirety of the 1st half despite the loss of Soares, even taking a 1-point lead into the half. The Cyclones trailed by 3 with just under 5-minutes to go in the half, but a dominant effort from Ashley Joens and Nyamer Diew (who combined to score the Cyclones’ last 11 points of the half) got the Cyclones the 36-35 lead at the break.
Then the vaunted 3rd quarter collapse hit. I’m not entirely sure how or why it happens, but it seems like the 3rd quarter for this team is so inconsistent. They either come out firing, extending the lead, able to hold it the remainder of the game, or they dig themselves a massive hole like they did today. The Sooners outscored the Cyclones 24-12 in the 3rd and as you might have guessed, it was not a pretty sight. Despite being roughed up, the Cyclones still had a shot to keep themselves in it after an Ashely Joens free throw at 1:09 to go cut it to just a 5-point lead. The Sooners had the answer though as Kennady Tucker knocked down a 3 ball and then after a tough offensive possession for the Cyclones, Ana Llanusa put the nail in the coffin with another 3 in the closing seconds to make it an 11-point lead heading to the final frame.
But while the Sooners thought they had the Cyclones buried for good, the offensive spark found itself for Iowa State. When they needed to most, the Cyclones worked their way back into the game just as they’d done with the trio of Ashley Joens, Lexi Donarski, and Emily Ryan time and time again. The trio rattled off a quick 10-3 run in the first two and a half minutes of the quarter, and after an Oklahoma layup to put the lead back to 6, the Cyclones went on yet another run. This time a 12-5 run to take the lead on a Denae Fritz 3-pointer with just 3:23 to go. Just like that, the Cyclones were back in it. The teams traded possessions for the remainder of the game and it felt like whoever had the ball last would end up taking this one home. Ashley Joens missed a layup but got the ball back and put it in with 14 seconds left to get the Cyclones the lead. OU responded with a Skylar Vann layup. After a pair of OU free throws to make it a 3-point game, the Cyclones had one shot left with 1.2 to go. Nyamer Diew got a good look at the top of the key as the buzzer sounded, but left it just short and the Cyclones' furious comeback in the 4th quarter (a 31-point effort) fell just shy.
82-79 is your final from Norman. The Cyclones lose in Big 12 play for the first time this season. Obviously, you hate to lose any game, but the most significant loss today was the loss of Stephanie Soares. Hopefully, it’s nothing serious and she can be back on the court as soon as possible.
The Twister Sisters will be back in action against Kansas State in Hilton Coliseum on Wednesday, January 11th.