AMES — No. 21 Iowa State trailed No. 1 Baylor by 21 points with six seconds left in the third quarter.
The Cyclones could’ve easily packed it in, but star player Bridget Carleton didn’t allow that to happen.
Iowa State cut the Baylor lead to just nine points with less than five minutes to play in the game, but the Cyclones ran out of gas and lost to the Bears 73-60 in Big 12 women’s basketball Saturday at Hilton Coliseum.
Carleton finished with a game-high 28 points.
The senior from Ontario, Canada, had her coach, Bill Fennelly, fired up about her performance after the game.
“I think today, on a national stage, against the best team in our league, there should be no doubt — no doubt — who the player of the year in this league is,” Fennelly said. “If anyone doesn’t vote for Bridget Carleton, then you need to come talk to me. What she did, that’s amazing. Everyone saw it.
“If you’re a Big 12 coach and you do not vote for Bridget Carleton for player of the year, you need to call me.”
Carleton only had eight points at halftime. She knew she needed to take her game to another level for Iowa State to have a chance.
She did just that, scoring 20 points in the second half. She finished the game shooting 8 for 20 from the field, 2 for 6 from 3-point range and 10 of 11 from the free-throw line.
Iowa State’s second leading scorer was Alexa Middleton with 14 points. The Cyclones didn’t have another player in double figures.
“I shot the ball a lot more than I did in the first half,” Carleton said. “I was just trying to attack the rim and get something going. We were stagnant offensively in the first half, so I was attacking when they were closing out on me.”
Fennelly said he didn’t need to talk to her at halftime, she already knew she needed to step up.
“You don’t need to challenge Bridget a whole lot,” Fennelly said. “She challenges herself. She knows what she means to this team. She has a great sense of, ‘I have to do more today.’ She can tell that and she’s willing to do it.
“It puts her at risk. She has to take some tough shots, she has to do some things that maybe aren’t fair. That’s why she is so good. She figures out a way to get us moving.”
Baylor’s length on the defensive end clearly impacted the Cyclones all afternoon.
Iowa State shot just 31.7 percent from the floor and 18.5 percent from beyond the arc.
“Their length in and of itself is difficult,” Carleton said. “They have the length to take a step back and still be able to contest a shot and that gives them an extra step on the drive.”
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