MBB: Cyclones struck down in overtime

Iowa State junior forward Craig Brackins attempt to stop Missouri’s Laurence Bowers on Tuesday at Hilton. Brackins had 14 points and 10 rebounds in Iowa State’s 69–67 loss on senior night. Photo: Zhenru Zhang/Iowa State Daily

Zhenru Zhang

Iowa State junior forward Craig Brackins attempt to stop Missouri’s Laurence Bowers on Tuesday at Hilton. Brackins had 14 points and 10 rebounds in Iowa State’s 69–67 loss on senior night. Photo: Zhenru Zhang/Iowa State Daily

Nate Sandell —

Iowa State’s Craig Brackins and Marquis Gilstrap stood shell-shocked on the court, staring blankly into the air.

For a second, the Cyclones appeared to be on the brink of securing a stunning overtime victory in its home season finale.

But a last second lay-in by Missouri guard Zaire Taylor, left the Cyclones reeling from a heartbreaking 69–67 loss.

“It just feels terrible to lose the last game at home,” Brackins said, who barely lifted his head to look up throughout the post-game press conference. “To lose it like that, it’s just difficult.”

Taylor’s basket put an end to a tightly contested, back-and-forth affair.

With neither team able to gain a lead larger than four, the two squads battled through 13 lead changes and 17 ties.

“I told the team in the locker room our defense was easily good enough to win,” said coach Greg McDermott. “Unfortunately they scored on the last two possessions of regulation and the last two possessions of overtime.”

Taylor tied the game at 67–67 with 11 seconds remaining in the game, giving Iowa State a chance to have the game’s final possession. However, an errant pass by Scott Christopherson went through the legs of Brackins, which allowed the Tigers to set up Taylor’s final basket.

The Cyclone defenders clogged the shooting lane on Missouri’s final possession, but Taylor was able to sink an awkward shot.

“I feel like I did almost the best I could trying to stop [Taylor] from scoring,” Gilstrap said. “I kept him out of the lane but he just shot some kind of hook shot over my head.”

McDermott was also left scrambling to offer an explanation about the final play.

“Defensively on that last play, I mean what else can a guy do,” McDermott said. “The last thing you want to do it put them on the free throw line. I don’t know how high he had to shoot that ball to get it over Marquis, but we had the right guy guarding him in that situation.”

The defensive slip-up was an unfortunate blemish on an otherwise solid defensive performance by the Cyclones.

Throughout the game, Missouri ran its typical high pressure defense, but Iowa State matched the Tigers with pressure of its own. Missouri out-rebounded the Cyclones by only one board (41–40) and had just one less turnover (19–20).

Five Cyclones were in double figures, including Gilstrap, who finished with a team-high 15 points. Brackins and guard Diante Garrett followed with 14 points.

Although Iowa State shot 40 percent from the floor, the Cyclones missed several opportunities that could have made the difference.

The Cyclones had the chance at the game-winning basket in the closing seconds of regulation, but could not get a shot off.

“At times in transition, especially against their press in 3-on-2 situations and 2-on-1, we just didn’t connect with the pass that was going to lead to the easy bucket,” McDermott said.

Both teams struggled to find any sort of success from 3-point range. Iowa State was 0-for-9 from 3-point territory before Gilstrap connected with 8:53 left in the second half. The Cyclones went on to hit three more. Missouri finished 4-for-19 from beyond the arc.

Iowa State held Missouri’s leading scorer Kim English to only five points, but J.T. Tiller and Marcus Denmon picked up the slack, scoring 17 and 16 points.

Tuesday night’s loss was yet another addition to the Cyclones’ long list of close losses this year. With each loss, McDermott and his team have been left searching for answer to their woes.

“You’d like to think, as a coach, that you find a way to help your team get a win in this situation and I didn’t get it done,” McDermott said.

The Cyclones have had 12 games in league play this season that have been one possession games in the last four minutes. Iowa State is 3–9 in those games.

“Those losses are far more difficult than getting beat by 20,” McDermott said.

“It’s been tough on those guys, but to their credit, they keep showing up. I just said, we haven’t quit yet, lets not quit now.”

With the loss, Iowa State (14–16, 3–12 in the Big 12) secures 11th place in the Big 12 and will play the conference’s sixith-place team in next week’s Big 12 Championship Tournament in Kansas City.

The Cyclones conclude the regular season on the road at Kansas State on Saturday.