Not sure if it was the distance or the opponent or the atmosphere of the gym, but the Cyclones started out incredibly slow. From turnovers to poor shooting, the offense just looked sluggish. Vanderbilt wasn’t able to run away with it due to poor shooting of their own, but the Cyclone offense seemingly couldn’t overcome the Commodore defense.
All that said, the top scorer for the Cyclones, Audi Crooks, wasn’t going to be denied down low when given the opportunity. In a slow and sluggish first quarter that saw the Commodores leading 9-6 with just under 90 seconds to go, Crooks knocked home a tough layup and completed the old fashioned three-point play to tie it up. Not to be outdone by a fellow freshman, Kelsey Joens connected on a 3-ball on the following possession to give the Cyclones their first lead of the game at 12-9. Vandy added a late bucket to cut the Cyclone lead to just 1 at the end of the first.
That was about the end of the fun for the Cyclones in the first half...
Something about this team and second quarters just doesn’t seem to go well. The Cyclones lost their slim lead almost immediately and would not get it back for the rest of the quarter. Whatever demons they had from the 2nd quarter against Drake, they haven’t been able to exorcise them as they were, for the second time this year, held to just four points in the frame. Vandy put up a much stronger showing in the 10 minutes before the half, outscoring the Cyclones 17-4 and building up a 12-point lead at the break, 28-16.
Iowa State tried as they might to get back into this one in the third quarter. Unfortunately for them, the lead hadn’t shrunk until a quick 7-0 burst from Diew and Belanger got the lead down from 15 to 8, forcing a Vanderbilt timeout with 4:50 to go in the quarter. The timeout stemmed the bleeding for the Commodores as they got consecutive baskets pushing the lead back to 12 with just under 4:00 to go. With their backs against the wall, the Cyclones turned to their freshmen. 3-pointers by Arianna Jackson and Kelsey Joens along with layups from Crooks and Brown (who also got the free throw to go) got the Cyclones back into it, cutting the lead all the way form 39-27 to 41-40 with a minute to go, before a foul on Nyamer Diew with 1.3 to go, got Vandy to the line to make it 43-40 heading into the final quarter.
Crooks was the first Cyclone to hit double-digits with her bucket to open the 4th. Vandy responded with a 5-0 run, forcing Fennelly to call a timeout with 8:48 to go. It just felt like every Iowa State run was met by a Vanderbilt counterpunch that landed harder. The Vandy lead got all the way up to 54-43 before Nyamer Diew knocked down her first triple of the game to give the Cyclones some life approaching the five minute mark. Shortly after, she would foul out with the deficit at 10 with 4:40 to go. Vandy freshman Aga Makurat put the game essentially on ice with a 3-ball after the inbound pass at that point in the game, making it 59-46 Commodores with 3:56 to go. Vandy held serve the remainder of the game, finishing it off 68-53.
The Cyclones will be back in action tomorrow against the Syracuse Orange on FloHoops.