Iowa State faced off against Texas for the Big 12 championship, a series that was split during the regular season. Cyclones went with the usual lineup of Fritz, Ryan, Donarski, Joens, and Kane to start the game in Municipal Auditorium.
After a slow start offensively for both teams, Ashley Joens hit a three two minutes into the game to break the 0-0 tie. At the first media break, Cyclones led just 7-4, both teams struggled out of the gates. Iowa State was able to match their efforts in the back half of the first quarter, taking a 14-11 lead into the second quarter. Ashley Joens with 8 points and 3 rebounds through 10 minutes.
The second quarter was a continuation of the defensive battle, every basket was earned. A couple of and-ones by Texas gave them a three-point lead at the media break, 22-19. Both teams traded buckets for the rest of the half. Lots of droughts and fouls, you would have thought this was Otzelbasketbergerball. After all of that, Iowa State trailed at the half, 27-26.
Once again, teams traded baskets throughout the third quarter, with the offensive pace picking up a bit. Ashley Joens carrying the load for the Cyclones, scoring 20 of Iowa State’s first 37 points to aid ISU to a 4 point lead at the media timeout. Out of the media break, Ashley Joens continued dominating, finishing with 10 points in the quarter to give Iowa State an extended lead. A big three from Nyamer Diew at the end of the quarter stretched the Cyclones’ lead to 47-39 with 10 minutes to play.
It was more of the same through the start of the fourth quarter, both teams struggled to shoot with Iowa State still protecting its lead. And, of course, Ashley Joens continued to get hers. A left-handed layup that somehow went in around a plethora of Texas defenders put the Clones up 10 and forced Vic Schaffer to use a timeout with 6:45 to play. Turns out, Texas needed more than a timeout. Iowa State scored a quick five points out of the break to open it up to a 56-41 lead with just over five minutes to play. An ISU scoring drought followed to let Texas back into the game around two and a half minutes left, but the Longhorns could not capitalize on the opportunities they were gifted.
The Cyclones sealed it at the line to become Big 12 champions for the first time since 2001. An unbelievable effort for Bill Fennelly’s squad on both ends of the floor, maintaining composure all throughout and doing everything right to earn the victory.
We will find out Iowa State’s fate in the NCAA Tournament during the selection show tonight at 7 pm on ESPN.