AMES — Iowa State had two looks at game-winning plays.
Both possessions played out exactly the same way. Desperation 3-pointers fell helplessly to the ground and the Cyclones walked out of their home building with a loss to a non-conference opponent for the first time in four years.
“The biggest key is we just weren’t able to get enough good, quality shots on the offensive end,” said Iowa State coach Steve Prohm. “That’s something I’ve got to look at and do better with. But a tough, tough loss.”
— Keith Murphy (@MurphyKeith) December 2, 2016
No. 21 Iowa State’s (5-2) offense struggled to get going all night in a 55-54 loss to Cincinnati in overtime. It had five assists to seven turnovers, shot 36.7 percent from the field and had two starters go scoreless — including Naz Mitrou-Long, who was 0-for-7 and missed the final potential game-winning 3s at the end of regulation and overtime.
Monte Morris had a game-high 15 points while Matt Thomas added 13 points and seven rebounds. Darrell Bowie had 11 points and seven boards, but the Bearcats (6-1) controlled the glass all night with a 46-34 rebounding margin — including 16 offensive rebounds.
The Cyclones shot 45 percent in the first half and held Cincinnati to just 32.1 percent, but a 21-10 disadvantage on the glass took them to the break down 25-24. On the night Cincinnati had a 16-7 advantage in second-chance points, but was ahead in that category 10-0 after the first 20 minutes.
Iowa State was forced to play a smaller lineup for the final eight-plus minutes of the opening half after Deonte Burton and Merrill Holden both went out with two fouls each.
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“It just came down to boxing out,” Bowie said. “I don’t think size really mattered. They were just tougher than us when it came down to it.”
Iowa State held a 50-48 lead with 38 seconds to play and guard Jacob Evans, who had 11 points, had the ball stolen by Thomas. Thomas took it toward the Cyclones bench, but Evans stole it back, which led to a jumper from Gary Clark, who had 11 points, to force overtime.
In the extra period, Cincinnati went just 1-for-3 shooting, but Evans was able to connect on the game-deciding free throws to put the Bearcats up one. Iowa State went 2-for-8 shooting in overtime.
“We just didn’t make shots,” Morris said. “We’ve just got to get better and watch some more film.”
Iowa State’s recent trend of staunch defense carried over from its holiday tournament in Florida, but the offense it put on display throughout its first six games got left behind.
Possessions ran late into the shot clock, and the Cyclones — particularly late — started settling for long, contested 3s and were just 5-for-21 on the night.
“My one concern was just finding the holes in the zone to attack and continue to get ball movement and not get frustrated,” Prohm said. “The thing I was proud of them is we defended for 45 minutes. (Cincinnati) made one or two really tough plays down the stretch to stay in the game and then win the game.”
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