AMES – The Iowa State women’s basketball team trailed No. 17 West Virginia by 21 points at the 3:29 mark of the third quarter Saturday.
It looked like the Cyclones were going to wilt, but a late push in the fourth quarter saw Iowa State trim the lead to nine with 4:02 left to play. The Cyclones trimmed the lead again and trailed by seven, 66-59, with 33 seconds left.
But the effort wasn’t enough as Iowa State (8-11, 2-6 Big 12) lost to West Virginia (16-4, 4-4) 69-59 at Hilton Coliseum.
“West Virginia just physically manhandled us and we didn’t handle it very well,” Iowa State Coach Bill Fennelly said. “We continue to struggle to shoot and we continue to struggle to find ways to score when we really need to score.”
Iowa State star Bridget Carleton was one of the Iowa State players who struggled to find the bottom of the net Saturday night. The junior scored 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting and 2-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc.
As a team, Iowa State shot 36 percent from the field and 32 percent from 3-point range. Right now, the Cyclones don’t have the firepower to sustain runs, but they do have short bursts in them that allow them to stay in games like this.
“We’re a team that can go on runs and we have the power to go on 1-to-2-minute runs when we hit a couple 3s in a row,” Carleton said. “We get our energy back and that’s our strength.”
The problem is when Iowa State runs its play and nothing comes out of it, the players get stagnant and the Cyclones struggle to get a good open look.
A big part of Iowa State’s runs, especially in the first half, was guard Emily Durr who started 15 of 17 games this season, but came off the bench on Saturday. She provided a spark in the first half, scoring 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting. She only added three points in the second half, but she still led the team in scoring. The senior had 15 points.
“I thought she had a great first half,” Fennelly said. “We brought her off the bench, she had been struggling lately, so we brought her off the bench to see if she could get into the flow. I thought the first half, she played as good as she’s played in a long time. She was efficient, her shot selection was good.”
West Virginia was able to take advantage of Iowa State in the post, both offensively and defensively. On defense, West Virginia was able to use its physical brand of basketball to limit Iowa State’s post touches.
“Right now, our post players want to be guards,” Fennelly said. “They don’t want to post up and do some of the things you have to do. But again, maybe I wouldn’t want to either if I was getting beat up by the monsters they were getting beat up by.”
On offense, the Cyclones didn’t have an answer for Mountaineers forward Teana Muldrow. She had 27 points, shooting 10 of 19 from the field. She was also the game’s leading rebounder, pulling down 11 boards.
This is Iowa State’s sixth loss in its last seven games.
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