Cyclones pull through late, snap 10-game skid


Photo: Shiyao Liu/Iowa State Daily

Cyclone forward Jamie Vanderbeken attempts to block a shot on Sat, Feb. 26 2011 at Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State defeated Nebraska 83-82.

Chris Cuellar

It wasn’t going to be easy, shaking off a 10-game losing streak and putting together a complete game. Cyclone fans knew that.

The crowd at Hilton Coliseum on Saturday held its collective breath through big play after big play, but came out on top.

Iowa State (15-14, 2-12 in Big 12) won its first game since Jan. 15, beating Nebraska 83-82 in overtime.

Nebraska’s (18-10, 6-8) Lance Jeter hit a big shot near the end of regulation to send the game to overtime, but Iowa State held on and joined Cyclone fans in a boisterous celebration.

“It was relief, we finally won one,” said ISU senior forward Jamie Vanderbeken. “I forgot what it felt like to win. It felt amazing.”

Jeter tied the game up with 3.4 seconds left in regulation with an isolation three-pointer, silencing the home crowd and pounding his chest. Jeter led all scorers with 27 points and added 10 rebounds and five assists. In overtime, he even hushed the home crowd’s excitement knocking down a running three with 0.8 seconds left in OT.

“I was proud of the way the guys responded in overtime. We’ve lost so many close games, it didn’t seem like we’ve caught one break this season down the stretch,” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg. “Jeter raised up and made a heck of a shot, we were going to make him make a three.”

Despite Jeter’s heroics, the Cyclones got the win in a tight game and fought off the murmurs and trepidation that builds up when a squad can’t win close games. Iowa State lost a tight game against Nebraska in the team’s first Big 12 game and created a knack for losing late leads.

“If you look at the stat sheet, you’d think that we played really, really well in the second half,” said Nebraska coach Doc Sadler. “The fact of the matter is they made the plays when they needed to make them, got stops in overtime and got offensive rebounds. That’s a recipe for getting beat on the road.”

Iowa State took a lead into halftime for the first time since Jan. 15 against Baylor, but it was a tight game throughout with nine ties and seven lead changes — the game’s biggest lead just eight points. All five ISU starters scored in double-figures and Diante Garrett led them with 17 points, nine assists and a 6-of-6 effort from the free throw line that likely saved the game. The team was 19-of-22 from the free throw line Saturday.

“There was just something about our pre-game warm-up, everyone was happy, in a great mood. It was all positive and it just carried over to the game,” Vanderbeken said.

Iowa State shot 50.9 percent for the game and made 10 three-pointers, but were out-muscled for much of the second half. Nebraska made 12 three-pointers on the game and collected 13 offensive rebounds, nine from center Jorge Brian Diaz.

Cyclone freshman Calvin Godfrey did his best to contain the problems in the post, playing 26 minutes off the bench and collecting nine points, five rebounds and blocking two shots.

“Calvin was great. Calvin was awesome, getting big rebounds for us and playing tough and physical defense on those bigger, longer players that Nebraska has. They throw it down to those horses in the block and they’re pretty tough to stop,” Hoiberg said.

Iowa State’s losing streak was the longest in the Big 12 this season and while the loss still leaves the team in last place, it wants to just build confidence heading into the Big 12 Conference Tournament.

“You can not say enough about the number of close games they’ve played and the job that [Hoiberg] has done to be able to keep them competing like he has,” Sadler said. “That speaks volumes about the character of his players and also the job that he and his staff have done.”

Saturday’s game was the final conference game between Iowa State and Nebraska, as the Cornhuskers depart to the Big Ten Conference next season.

Iowa State’s last home game of the season is Wednesday against Colorado. Tip off at Hilton Coliseum is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.